How long does a palatal expander stay in?

So you’ve just taken your child in for their first orthodontic exam and as Dr. Matsumoto is going over their recommended treatment plan for your kiddo, you hear the word “palatal expander”. If you immediately thought of some kind of alien vs predator device, we promise you it’s not that sinister! While Dr. Matsumoto will explain your child’s braces, Invisalign, or Brius treatment in detail (including any supplemental orthodontic appliances), you may find yourself with more questions after leaving our offices.

That’s ok! Our team is here to answer your questions and provide you with expert resources to read on your own if you’d like….like this blog! Are you considering orthodontic treatment and wondering how long you’ll have to wear those expanders? So let’s address a few common questions about palatal expanders – from acronyms to how long they have to wear them.


What is an RPE in orthodontics?

Now the most common palatal expander used in our practice is called an RPE, which stands for Rapid Palatal Expander. These work great with patients who are still growing (like kids and teens). Just like their name suggests, an RPE will expand your child’s narrow palate to help make room for their overcrowded teeth or unhealthy bite (or crossbite). The rapid part comes into play because your child will be turning their expander every day.

Dr. Matsumoto also uses implant-supported palatal expanders, surgically-assisted rapid palatal expanders, or maxillary skeletal expanders (MSE) for our adult patients.


What’s turning a palate expander like? Does it hurt?

This is one of THE most common questions parents and kids have. And where the most hesitation about starting orthodontic treatment can happen. While it might seem intimidating at first, it’s a simple process. As for what it feels like, your child may experience some discomfort the first few days or shortly after a turn. This is normal as the pressure exerted causes healthy movement.

So “how many turns for a palatal expander?” is usually the next question that follows this one. The answer is not simple! Because every child is different, the number of turns varies. Your child will have regular check-ins with Dr. Matsumoto to see how their progress is going and recommend a number of daily turns with a minimum and maximum.

Once your child’s expander is placed, Dr. Matsumoto will give you a special key that fits into the expander and demonstrate how to use it. You or your child will insert the key and gently turn it. Doing so, gradually widen the expander and in turn your child’s palate.


How long do expanders stay in?

Now, for the question of the hour! While most in early orthodontic treatment wear an expander for approximately 6 months, your child’s unique timeframe depends on a few different factors, such as:

  • Age. A 6 year old typically wears an expander for less time than a 15 year old as their palate is still in the earlier stages of fusing, which means easier movement (NIH).
  • Severity of orthodontic condition(s). Depending on how complex your child’s orthodontic condition is or if they have more than one, will increase or decrease their time in an expander.
  • Compliance. Skipping turns or doing more turns than recommended also affects this.
  • The individual. Depending on their body’s own response to orthodontic treatment, they may see faster or slower movement than others.


Still have questions about how long your child will have a palatal expander?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about orthodontic appliances or treatment. Your child’s treatment plan with us will include an initial estimate of how long they’ll wear their expander and we’ll keep you informed of any necessary adjustments.

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Wilmington, NC, request a complimentary exam for you or your child with Dr. Matsumoto today!


Related Posts

bride on wedding day smiles after learning the fastest way to straighten teeth before wedding

It’s a dream come true! The love of your life has just proposed! You’re floating on cloud 9 as you look through the pictures and videos, your BFF captured of you and your future hubby’s special moment. But suddenly you find yourself wishing you had a smile as beautiful and radiant as your new engagement...

adult at the dentist for her teeth cleaning with braces

If you have BRIUS, braces or Invisalign, should you continue visiting your dentist every 6 months for professional cleanings? Can your dentist even clean your teeth with braces on? Spoiler alert – YES it’s actually essential that you still visit your dentist throughout your orthodontic treatment! Here’s everything you need to know:   Before you...

son hugs dad after moving and switching orthodontists in the middle of treatment

So you’re in active orthodontic treatment at the halfway mark to your beautiful new smile. You’ve gotten to know your orthodontist and team, but suddenly, your family is moving. Maybe you’re in a military family (thank you for your service!) Or maybe mom or dad got a job opportunity in a new city. Whatever the...

family chases each other on the beach and talks facts about gum disease

February is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on one of the most common yet often overlooked oral health issues: gum disease. At Matsumoto Orthodontics & Periodontics, we specialize in creating beautiful smiles – with a focus on both the gums and teeth. Dr. Matsumoto is dual-trained as an orthodontist and periodontist; he’s the...

mother and daughter piggyback on beach and talk about smiledirectclub lawsuit

We heard the recent news about SmileDirectClub closing its doors, and (unfortunately) we’re not surprised! Mail-order clear aligners have been known to cause irreparable damage to their patients’ precious smiles. We genuinely hope that you haven’t been negatively impacted by SmileDirectClub mail-order care. As an experienced orthodontist, it’s reassuring to know that there is less...

adult sits on beach with friends talking about veneers vs invisalign

Dental veneers have become a lot more popular lately! If you’re on Tiktok, Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably seen some of your favorite ‘influencers’ sporting new veneer smiles. Are you considering veneers for yourself? Are porcelain veneers a good alternative to Invisalign® or BRIUS® braces treatment? We’re here to help you understand the realities of...