Rapid Palatal Expander What?

Today we came home with another contraption for my daughter. A protraction headgear.

This girl amazes me daily!  She is growing into such a responsible, helpful, grateful, wonderful young woman.  I really have been blessed to have her in my life.  She rarely complains and is a happy, fun, thoughtful child.  She goes with the flow and makes the best of every situation.  One example, her headgear . . .

She finally got it and she was happy to get it, knew it would be best for her.  A part of me thinks she thinks it's cool!  I love that about her, she's not worried about what others think, if she likes it that's all that matters! She even went to bed wearing it, no issues!

I wouldn't guess that many people have firsthand experience with the palatal expander, but most people probably know someone who knew someone who had one. If you didn't, now you do -- my daughter has one. The orthodontist put hers in about two weeks ago.

What exactly is this thing? Oh, if you have a flair for the dramatic, you might say it's something akin to a modern day torture device. If you're less prone to hysterics, you might simply describe it as an ugly contraption the orthodontist sticks in a mouth and leaves there for a specified period of time, during which my daughter is counting the seconds down to its removal. Sounds fun right?

In the simplest terms possible (and the nicest), this bit of joy widens her upper palate. There is a key hole in the center of the RPE. I stick a key into the hole every night(for the past two weeks) and turn once. Sounds simple enough, but my daughter cried for the first four days. I FELT HORRIBLE! {Basically designed for quick and efficient expansion, this appliance breaks my daughter's median suture thus allowing for easy expansion with minimum resistance}

RPE's reasons vary from person to person. From patient to patient, really, as these are usually used on prepubescent. My son had his 'installed' last year, because he had a very small mouth. His teeth were too big and had no place to come in. He wore the expander for six months(it is still in his mouth), I cranked for three weeks and we waited for all the adult teeth to come in. Now he has the expander and a full mouth of braces. Well, not a full mouth, he only has braces on his adult teeth. This was after he had four baby teeth pulled. Made for a quite a mess.

Other children may need an expander due to a cross bite, breathing problems, or different issues. It all depends on the individual. My daughter needed an expander because her mouth is too small as well. Additionally, she has an underbite. Not to be confused with an overbite. Her lower jaw rests over her upper jaw. Her bite is so off and terrible that she has ground down her top four baby teeth to practically nothing.

It is impossible for her to eat like a normal person. My daughter preferred soft foods now, for obvious reasons, as her teeth ache a lot. She has a hard time chewing food since her teeth no longer meet due to the size of the expander (the ortho doesn't want her grinding down what is left of her teeth). Food is constantly getting stuck between the expander and the roof of her mouth. We are carrying tooth brushes everywhere we go now. Her appetite has definitely been deflated. She used to be a very good eater. Not so much right now.

Sadly, she has developed a lisp. And while I had read that she would have this, I was assured she would overcome the speech issues within a few days. This is not the case at all. My son had had his expander for one year now and his speech is still impaired.

Another odd issue with the expander is the saliva. Lots and lots of saliva going on. Drooling, spitting, hocking . . . pretty gross.

I'm pretty much insisting that at least one of my children become an orthodontist!