Orthodontic expanders are dental appliances used to widen the upper jaw or the arch of the teeth. They are commonly used in orthodontic treatment to correct overcrowding, crossbites, and other dental malocclusions. There are several types of orthodontic expanders, including Rapid Palatal Expanders (RPE), Quad Helix Expanders and a removable braces with expansion screws.
Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE): This type of expander is used to widen the upper jaw. It consists of a metal framework that is attached to the upper molars using bands. A special key is used to activate the expander, which is turned daily for a few weeks to rapidly widens the palate by pushing against the teeth. The expansion is usually complete within 1 month, although the RPE may be left in place for several months afterwards to maintain the new position of the teeth.
Quad Helix Expander: This type of expander is used to widen the upper arch and correct crossbites. It is a wire framework that is custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth and is attached to the upper molars using bands. It is essentially a spring that pushes the teeth on the upper left apart from the teeth on the upper right. Quad Helix expanders are usually used in conjunction with fixed braces.
Removable brace with expansion screw: This is a type of upper removable appliance (URA) that is used to widen the arch of the teeth. It is made of acrylic and is adjusted by turning a screw in the centre of the appliance. This is generally done in a much slower way than the RPE.
Each type of expander has its own advantages and disadvantages and may be recommended based on the specific needs of the patient. It’s important to discuss with your orthodontist which type of expander is best suited for your individual needs.