Palatal Expander Device (PED)

Palatal Expander Device

Andover Orthodontics provides palatal expander services in Andover, MA.

Call 978-475-0450 to learn more and schedule your appointment. 

A palatal expander device, also known as a PED or RPE, is one of the primary tools that orthodontists use in early orthodontic treatment for children. When we start orthodontic treatment in childhood as opposed to waiting until adolescence, we can use devices like palatal expanders to influence the way the jaw grows, making sure it develops correctly. It’s much easier to influence the jaw as it grows than to correct problems with the jaw in the teen years, when it is finished developing. The palate grows as two separate halves that fuse together around puberty, so the prepubescent years are ideal for undergoing this treatment. 

Palatal expander devices can be used to treat or prevent crossbite, impacted teeth, and crowding by widening the upper jaw. They make space to help crowded teeth erupt into the mouth and ensure that the upper teeth fit around the lower teeth when the mouth is closed for proper function and symmetrical facial features.

Palatal expander devices work to correct bites and straighten teeth, but another lesser known benefit is that they can also help patients breathe better. This is because a narrow or high palate can make it difficult for a child to breathe through the nose; a PED can help stop mouth breathing and even lessen snoring. Depending on their needs, we may start orthodontic treatment with children as young as six years old by using a palate expander as a first step. For children with thumb sucking habits, a PED can also act as a habit device in order to help stop this behavior.

How Palatal Expander Devices Work

Made with a combination of BPA-free plastic and metal, palatal expander devices fit flush against the palate. They are connected to the upper molars with bands to hold them securely in place throughout treatment. 

Parents are given a special key used to make small, daily adjustments to the palatal expander device. This helps gradually expand the size of the palate. Some children experience slight discomfort as their PED is adjusted and for a short time afterwards, but it is not painful. While every case is different, treatment with palatal expander devices is typically short, rarely lasting longer than 6 months.

Although a palatal expander device is only worn for a short amount of time, it’s important to be diligent with oral hygiene, as it is easy for plaque and bacteria to build up under, around, and on the device. A water flosser can help keep the PED clean, and children should avoid sticky foods like gum, caramels, and other chewy candies. Apples, carrots, and corn-on-the-cob should be cut before eating to prevent damage to the PED.

When used as part of an early orthodontic, or interceptive, treatment plan, palatal expander devices can either eliminate the need for future orthodontic procedures or lessen the extent and length of treatment in the teen years. 

Call 978-475-0450 to schedule your appointment.