Gently widen the upper jaw to prepare your child’s mouth for a great life-long smile.
The Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME) is an orthodontic appliance designed to widen your upper jaw by gently and gradually separating the palate. Many young patients have benefited from the appliance, which is permanently fixed in the mouth for a short period of time.
Why would a patient need a Rapid Maxillary Expander?
RME’s are used to correct the problem of upper back teeth sitting inside the lower back teeth, which is called a posterior crossbite. Generally the upper teeth should sit approximately half a tooth width over the bottom teeth. The RME works by gently putting pressure on the upper back teeth to widen the palate. Though it does differ from case to case, this orthodontic appliance is typically used on patients that are under 15 years-of-age as their palates are not yet fully formed and are malleable and capable of expanding. The RME also helps to treat overcrowding, as the wider the jaw becomes the more room there is for the teeth.
How does the appliance work?
After your teeth have been assessed and the RME has been determined as the best course of action, your orthodontist will usually place spacers in between the teeth where the appliance will be fitted. Once there is enough room for the appliance, it will be placed into the mouth. It is not removable and will stay in the mouth for the duration of your treatment. You will feel some pressure on your teeth for the first few days, however this won’t last very long. This appliance does require some at-home participation. The RME will need to be ‘activated’ regularly, your orthodontist will tell you when and how often. This is done by inserting a small specialised key into the screw that sits at the roof of the mouth, the key will turn the screw which should place outward pressure on the upper teeth, continuing to expand the jaw. You cannot turn the screw on your own, it will need to be performed by someone else.
During treatment, patients might expect some of the following
- The RME might create some extra saliva in the mouth in the first few days; however this will begin to subside.
- It may take several days to get used to speaking with the new appliance in your mouth.
- For the most part, the process is relatively painless. You will notice some pressure when you first have the appliance fitted, and each time the screw is turned, however this tends to diminish quite quickly.
- As the jaw is expanding, it is quite common to experience gaps in the upper front teeth. These will usually correct themselves, or will be corrected during a post treatment, such as braces.