Attached to upper molars by cemented bands, the rapid palatal expander is an orthodontic appliance used to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is typically used when the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw or in some cases of upper dental crowding.

When patients are still growing, the connective tissue between the left and right halves of their upper jaw is very responsive to expansion. By simply activating the expander through a screw in the center of the appliance, with a special key we provide, gradual pressure is placed on the left and right halves of the upper jaw. This pressure results in a widening of the upper jaw by separation of the two bony plates. A temporary space is usually evident between the upper front teeth. The expander is typically turned over a one-to-three-week time period to achieve the desired expansion. It stays in place for six months to allow new bone growth and eventual stabilization.