Marketers weren’t involved in the naming conventions of dental terms. If they had worked their magic, many of the words a dentist uses wouldn’t cause concern. It’s unfortunate so many useful devices and procedures have stigmas stemming from their names. Once customers learn how important these things are to dental care, any worry vanishes. A great example is the rapid palatal expander. Here’s a guide to what it is and how it helps.

The Problem

Many people suffer from the aggravation of asymmetric teeth. Some of them fail to develop at the same pace, and that causes the top of the mouth to fit poorly with the bottom. Those blessed with perfect teeth have them line up naturally during their normal growth process. Many people aren’t that lucky.

The condition where your teeth don’t line up correctly is called crossbite. The technical explanation is that this occurs when the width of the maxillary arch is too narrow. Effectively, the top of your mouth isn’t wide enough, so your teeth aren’t parallel. Your upper teeth should have some overlap with your bottom ones, but if it’s pronounced, you suffer from a crossbite.

Potential Issues

You stand to suffer several issues if your maxillary arch is narrow. The least comfortable one is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). It’s a painful condition that will bother you for the rest of your life. TMJ includes many symptoms. The worst symptoms are a ringing of the ears and pain in the jaw that can lead to a condition known as lockjaw. You’ll also experience discomfort when you chew.

Other potential issues stemming from asymmetric teeth include loose teeth, receding gum lines, and enamel issues with your teeth. Sufferers who don’t address these problems now will face constant dental issues. The worst problem doesn’t involve pain, though. Your jaw might actually grow in a disproportionate manner if you fail to correct the overbite. It can actually change your face’s appearance.

Rapid Palatal Expander - Simister and Leaver Orthodontics

The Rapid Palatal Expander

A Helpful Device with a Scary Name

The key to preventing lifelong problems stemming from asymmetric teeth involves a medical tool with a scary name. The rapid palate expander may sound like something torturers use when attempt to extract information from James Bond, but in reality, it’s a noble device.

One of the best cures for avoiding misaligned teeth is to stretch them. That sounds painful, and the truth is that there is some discomfort involved. The underlying concept is benevolent, though. The sooner you address the imbalance in your mouth, the quicker you’ll bridge the gap of the size disparity between your upper and lower teeth.

Enter the rapid palate expander (RPE). This clever tool fixes your dental issues before they can cause you a lifetime of pain. It operates by stretching the size of the smaller arch until it matches the larger one. Your palate eventually solidifies into one piece as you get older (toward the end of the teen years, but sometimes a bit earlier). As long as you haven’t reached that age where your palate has shut permanently, you can expand it to the proper width.

How an RPE Works

A dentist will insert the RPE in your mouth. Think of the apparatus not as a procedure but as an ongoing process. As a patient, you’ll get a small wire. This piece will fit into a slot in the RPE. This gives you control over how much turning you do with the wire, which functions as a key.

As the patient, you’ll rest in a position where someone else can twist the wire, effectively turning a key. When he or she does this, the RPE performs a gradual expansion of the arch. It’s basically a stretching exercise you’ll need to do a couple of times a day for a set period. Assuming your narrow palate width was the main problem, your overbite will vanish and your teeth will look and feel straight.

The rapid palate expander may sound scary, but it’s not. This is a simple apparatus that will save you much aggravation and pain during your life. If you have an overbite and want to fix your problem, contact the dentists at Simister and Leaver at 702-674-6350.

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