Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Speech Altered With Palate Expander

Our dentist suggested that my older son see an orthodontist to possibly see if an expander (also known as a palatal expander, rapid palatal expander, rapid maxillary expansion appliance, palate expander or orthodontic expander) was necessary. My son was 9.5 years old at the time and had pretty straight teeth, nearly perfect actually, so I was surprised.

We did see the orthodontist, and indeed a palate expander was recommended. He is well trusted as he actually is a relative of ours who is not making a profit off of our services so I know this is not being done unnecessarily.

The two teeth next to the top center front teeth were overlapping the two front teeth. This really has been developing within the last year, the year that he was nine years old. The same thing was happening on the bottom. Other than that my son’s teeth were nice and straight, at the correct angles and so on. I had assumed that as my son’s jaw grew over time, that his teeth would straighten out.

I had not even heard of this thing called a palate expander. Basically what they are doing is forcing the jaw to widen to be wider than the body had anticipated it to be. In this way the teeth can straighten out, with or without braces, keeping more of the adult teeth intact. The goal is to keep as many of the adult teeth in the mouth as possible. Back when I was a teen, with a too-small for the teeth jaw, the dentists pulled out some of the adult teeth and then used braces to move the remaining teeth around.

So plans were made to put in the palate expander. Not much was said about side effects. First they put in the top one, then left that there for a few weeks so he could get used to it (not yet using it), before they put in the bottom one.

I was shocked when I realized my son’s lovely voice was gone. Formerly my son had no speech impediments. With this expander in place, he has multiple, temporary “speech impediments”. His speech is terrible. He has a new lisp, and his speech is in general, garbled. Sometimes it is hard to hear what he is saying at all. It is actually so bad that I am a bit embarrassed for him as I see that other children and also adults do have a hard time understanding him.

I also wonder if any of the adults are judging him or me, assuming erroneously that my son has terrible speech problems and probably assuming that I am some stupid mother who never bothered to get her kid speech therapy. Those who meet us through homeschooling, especially the people who are just meeting us for the first time, may even (gasp) be thinking that we’re negligent, because if a kid was in school with this speech he definitely would have been referred for speech therapy.

It does not really matter what other people think. I know that my son does NOT have a speech impediment, biologically, that his awful speech now is due to the palate expander, and that this is temporary and will disappear when the expander is removed.

My son has one that looks like this Hyrax Rapid Palate Expander; you can see what one looks like, go here then scroll down and look for the one marked Hyrax Rapid Palate Expander. After seeing that you can now understand how that thing would impede normal speech!

When the palate expander was installed onto his bottom jaw, it got even worse. Can you imagine having a bunch of metal under your tongue? Imagine shoving a marble in front of your bottom two teeth, then try to talk. Can you imagine how that would change your speech?

A gross thing also is that this metal in his mouth over-stimulates the salivary glands. He creates so much saliva that it literally flies out of his mouth when he is talking. He has been wearing these things for two months and the saliva shows no signs of stopping. If his mouth is not closed at all times, he drools. It is horrible if he is breathing through his mouth and suddenly a big drool comes out, talk about gross!

A friend scared the pants off of me when she told me that a certain side effect happened to her niece and nephew. I was not told anything about that side effect. I searched online for a long time and found only two references to that. I then spoke with the orthodontist about it and he said that if done correctly, that side effect won’t happen at all. I won’t even mention what she said as if someone reads it on my blog they may also freak out.

My son’s expander is turned once every 48 hours. That is a very gentle widening. In this short time that the expander has been in, his teeth are nearly perfectly aligned. The orthodontist said that different orthodontists have different recommendations for how often to turn the key and how much to turn it. He said he feels that some orthodontists are doing it way too quickly and too dramatically, forcing the jaw to widen very quickly. He said that if it is used more aggressively that there can be headaches or very bad headaches as well as very painful or sore teeth that makes normal eating a challenge, and sometimes also causing the two front teeth to create a sudden gap. Our orthodontist is interested in a gentler, slow use of the expander. For the record so far my son does not have any space between his two front teeth.

The orthodontist estimates that this son will never need regular braces, and may or may not even need the use of a retainer.

The art of orthodontics has really changed in the last 25 years!

The only thing I’ll say is that if you child is going to get a palate expander, listen to that voice and enjoy it, before it is installed, and just be prepared for changes.

I really miss my son’s real voice! But it will be nice for him to avoid having to have regular braces as I did (for 3.5 years) and for him to have perfectly straight teeth, too.

NOTE: Please read the comments section because other parents have written interesting comments about their experiences.

External Links

A detailed article about the Hyrax Rapid Palatal Expander

Wikipedia article on Palatal Expander (at present it doesn't tell much information)

You can find many articles by doing a Google search by the name of this unit, many orthodontists' practices have information about the devices that they use on their patients.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , .


Prairie Gourmet said...

My younger daughter had a palatal expander on the upper jaw when she was 7 to correct an overbite. This was 16 years ago. She had some speech impediments for a while until she got used to the appliance. It was a slow, gentle process.

Ultimately, the overbite disappeared and the teeth looked wonderful. She did wear braces on 4 front teeth to fine tune the alignment, but for only 6 months.

It was well worth the expense. Be prepared for a change in your child's face as it does "widen" the jaw. My daughter does have a much nicer profile as a result.

geero said...

i had an expander and so did my friend. we also drooled and talked funny but it went away. now i have had it in for 2 years. i am looking forward to getting it taken out!

christinemm said...

Update: today my son's bottom expander was removed and a removable retainer was put in. The retainer covers more of the area under the tongue and now the speech is even worse.

Well this is a stage.

His teeth look great so far!!

Bubba's Sis said...

Found this post thru a Google search - my 14-year-old daughter had her braces AND a rapid palatale expander put on yesterday, and the past 24 hours have been hell. She has so much saliva in her mouth, she can't swallow, and can't eat anything because it sticks to the expander. Is this worth it?? Is she too old for this? Please e-mail me at jdc1007@comcast.net with your opinion/experience with the RPE.

John said...

I had an RPE out in just my upper jaw the same day I had my full braces out on. I had my RPE in for a little over 2 years and did have a huge gap in my front teeth for a while. It hurt a lot I believe because my orthodontist had me turn it too often. As well about a year later I noticed a popping in my jaw. It has now been 5 years ago and I am diagnosed with TMJD. Temporomandibular joint disease from the RPE. I have to eventually have surgery to correct my jaw allignment and stop the intense pain it causes. Parents be aware that expanding and breaking the upper soft pallet should be done slowly and carefully to prevent long term side effects.

Any questions or comments can be emailed to. John.smith@tmo.blackberry.net

~Kim~ said...

My son is 11 and has a "severe crossbite" and needed a RPE. He had the expander put on today and oddly enough...he was very excited to have it done. He was unhappy with his teeth...(kids can be cruel-at school) I thought he was adorable...as all parents do. As soon as the expander was put on-his speech changed. I guess I hadn't expected that and I don't know why...it would be logical for that to happen, I just didn't think about it I guess. The part he's having a hard time adapting to is eating. I'm hoping that will get easier in time. Any suggestions?

christinemm said...

Kim I have so much to say I decided to make a full blog post of it instead of a long comment.

My younger son has RPEs now too so I'm dealing with two kids with them.

I hope to finalize this and blog it in the next 24 hours. I'll put the link here too.

Monique said...

My 8 year old son just got a palate expander put in and I am up in the middle of the night because his pain is causing me so much sorrow. I am really trying to find as much information about this procedure as possible so I can rest more easily that what I am doing to my little boy will be worth it in the end. Thank you for blogging about your experience. I agree about the speech being altered.

Kait2tog said...

I know this is an old post, but happened upon it recently. I had a palate expander put in when I was 12, 12 years ago. It was hideous, and not at all what you've described. Wish I'd been to your doctor- apparently my ortho was not into the "slow and gentle", as I believe I had to crank it the first night I had it. Did they explain to you that it actually un-fuses the joints in the back of your skull- the ones that fuse after birth, giving babies a harder head than the soft skull they are born with. It was so horrible that I don't remember it much, but I remember my mother (was she joking or not?) offering to get a hammer and break my toe to take away the pain in my head. (I think she was joking...) I would equate it to falling on the back of your head and splitting your head open. After that first crank though, I don't remember any pain from it. I did develop a gap in my front teeth, which was then corrected by braces. After the initial movement, I was able to crank it as much as needed. The speech impediment was pretty bad, but I'd had a lisp to begin with, and after it was removed about six months later (followed by 3 years of braces) my lisp significantly improved. The other sixth-graders called me "mousetrap" for the contraption in my mouth. If it's possible, start this over the summer when school isn't in session. I remember the first night I had it, my mouth being so sore but being unable to swallow tylenol because the pills simply circled around the device and back into my mouth. Eventually i was able to speak a little better with it. Try taking a huge wad of gum and sticking it to the roof of your mouth. Was it any wonder I was so non-compliant with any device that wasn't cemented to my mouth? I refused to wear all retainers, head gear, elastics. My teeth have shifted minorly as an adult, but I attribute that more to the appearance of my wisdom teeth than anything. Those too, I refused to do anything about! I can only hope when I have kids of my own, that they don't need this.

SwtDunCowgirl said...

I went through the whole braces thing when I was in 9th grade through the beginning of my senior year. My then ortho was very un-ethical in his practice. He wanted money only, didn't have the best attitude, and my teeth never were straight after my years of treatment. Anyways, I decided that I, now being 22, need to improve my smile because I absolutely refuse to take pictures even with my now fiance. I also feel like everyone is looking at my mouth instead of me!!! I have dental coverage through work that covers a certain amount of orthodontics. So I set up my consultation for braces. My now orthodontist is AMAZING, he made me feel like I was the only person he was working on. He wasn't in a hurry, took the time to explain what all needed to be done, and I could choose ceramic(almost invisible) braces at no additional cost. Also I am on a monthly payment plan. Everyone in the office is very personable and make you feel like family(very different from my childhood ortho) But anywho. I now have braces and today got my RPE put in. Mine looks like this, http://www.baileyortho.com/images/rapidexpander.jpg , but also has the litte legs on the back. It instantly made me drool. I am already an OCD swallower, and I can barely swallow, I feel like I am suffocating. When they put it in I about told them to take it out because I felt like I couldn't breath and I was going to choke to death. They did turn it before I left and I felt it in my mouth, nose and cheeks.I feel pressure in my nose and cheeks and I have a slight headache. I tried eating a cut up sandwich with just meat and mayo and it was so very hard to eat that. I had to rinse my mouth with water between each piece. I hope it is worth it!!!!

christinemm said...

SwDunCowgirl, Are you aware of the ages the RPE is good for and why?

Glad your Dr. is nice but are you aware of the result rates when RPE used on adults?

Bass said...

I had two appliances installed in my very small mouth today. The HERBST APPLIANCE and the PALATAL EXPANDER. I am salivating like hell. And I look as is my lover jaw were protruding. You may have seen people who have protruding chins. That's how I look like after having this Herbst Appliance put on. My Palatal Expander, on the other hand, is keeping me from being able to chew food. The only thing I have eaten today is rice with soup. I have difficulty speaking, and my friends kept laughing earlier when they heard me speak. My jaw is really hurting from the Herbst. I have a headache right now. Everytime I talk, I can feel the thing in my palate and it causes an upchuck reflex, like I'm going to throw up. My mouth is crowded with appliances, but I'm trying to keep my cool, 'cause I really want to fix my overly protrusive upper jaw.

London said...

okay,i have been reading these comments and im getting freaked out.

I'm 14 and im getting my expander tomorrow. ( in the roof of my mouth )
( lol, Im a girl )
and i have been researching everything, and im worried about getting that disease thing and stuff. there are sooo many questions that i could ask but i will only ask a few...

does it really hurt within the first day?

will i have like lots of spit and stuff in my mouth? ( if i am only getting the top expander )

How long will it take for me to chew properly?


thanks so much,,

Samantha said...

I just got my RPE in yesterday, and my speech is just fine! I guess it simply depends on the individual.

A. J. said...

Hi -

My 9 yr son just got his expander put in yesterday and boy is he miserable. He is worried about eating, people laughing at him when he talks, swallowing, and the pain associated with turning 'the key' (fortunately only twice a week).

I too am worried, I worry about whether the shape of his face will change and will he loss weight because he won't want to eat.

I just wish I had the right words to comfort him.

christinemm said...

That son of mine had his last expander removed in summer 2009.

The extra saliva seemed to be the worst at the first few months. His body seemed to adjust. And he learned to swallow right before speaking to try to avoid spitting on people. It didn't always work though. He had to get over it and learn to apologize to people he spit on and say, "The expander in my mouth makes that happen, I'm sorry I know it's gross" or something like that.

I did not notice any change in my son's face even though my friend freaked me out about it. According to a second orthodontist that my other son uses the width movement is tiny, a couple of millimeters only.

The pain from moving the expander with the key lasted just one second and was no big deal to either of my kids.

Both of my kids wound up having the expander in for a long time without moving it. In the beginning it was moved and expanded the palate then it stayed in place for months and months acting like a brace to keep the palate from not going back. There was no pain associated with that long term use of the RPE.

My older son was originally told if he got the RPE 99% chance he'd not need braces due to his jaw & teeth being the way they are. Too bad when the last of his teeth came in last month we got the news he needs braces. The boy is enjoying a couple of week of nothing in his mouth before he gets braces next week...another chapter in his life...

matt said...

I am reading all of these comments and these experiences sound pretty bad with the exception of a few!

I recently had a palatal expander and I am 12 years old. The type of palatal expander that my orthodontist used was a Vecs palate expander (http://www.jco-online.com/files/product-news/2009_04/AzureOrthoVECS_web.jpg)

My orthodontist said that this was a newer style of expander that is much better than the old ones. Besides a little headache for like 5 minutes the first day, I did not have much trouble speaking or eating after I got used to it.
My orthodontist also showed me a cool video online that explained to me exactly what happens in palatal expansion.


For those of you about to get a palatal expander, you should watch this video.

Gina said...

My kids are going to the orthodontist this week. They all inherited a little mouth and big teeth from me. (Sadly, none of them took after their father, who never had braces and has naturally straight teeth.) A coworker's children had the palate expander and she told me about having to pump them full of pain medicine because it was so painful. I've also read the comments about faces changing and TMJ. When I had braces, they removed 4 permanent molars and eventually my wisdom teeth to make room. I'm now 42 and don't have headaches or jaw pain and have all my remaining teeth intact. I don't get the obsession with saving permanent teeth. I still have a mouth full of teeth. There may be children with real alignment problems who need one, but to me the idea of using this device just to save some permanent teeth is more a money making exercise than anything else. I've pretty much decided that they will put a palate expander on my children (who all only suffer from overcrowding) over my dead body.

christinemm said...

Hi Gina,
Thanks for your honest thoughts.

My son with the very overcrowded mouth (the second child not discussed in this post) had top & bottom expanders too now braces on top (age 8 earlier than my generation) plus now is said "he'll need to have permanent teeth rmoved".

I'm like you too with a small jaw & crowded teeth. I had 4 out plus my wisdom teeth & rest had braces. In my 40s all my teeth are still in place, doing great, healthy, etc. I also don't get this thing about the expanders.

I'm going along with it though.

One dentist confided to me "the expanders are so new, seems too much like Frankenstein to me, I don't like the idea".

My son mentioned in this post may wind up with braces because the teeth coming in at age 12 are crowding his teeth when before this there was no crowding. For him the RPE seems to have been a pre-braces thing, to do less work with braces in the 'second phase'.

This is all expensive.

Our new orthodontist (since former one retired) has his assistants doing most of the work. THis surprised me as my own braces were all worked on by the orthodontist. Things have changed since the 1980s: they do more braces on kids at younger ages, do RPEs, have their staff do the work, and the cost is about $3K for the upper and lower RPEs plus thousands more for the other braces part. So more work, done by less trained staff, for longer treatment time and higher costs to the parents. Oh, and there are tons more adults getting braces now which surprised me.

We have dental insurance but it seems lousy so far the expense is all out of our pocket, I've yet to see a payout from the dental insurance.

Amy B said...

Hi! My almost 17 year old son has had his SECOND (1st was at age 9)RPE for 2 weeks now. All I can see it doing is swinging-hinging?-his back teeth sideways. I would sure appreciate that website you mentioned. I'm up at 4a.m. worrying about it.

christinemm said...

Hi Amy B, sorry you are stressed.
The link is in the blog post at the bottom.

The top expander expands the jaw itself it doesn't swing the teeth outward.

The bottom expander does move the tops of the teeth outward as the bottom jaw is not being stretched or encouraged to grow wider in any way.

Our new orthodontist (former one retired) said the movement is only about 1 mm. for my son's mouth. So I am over the fear it will change the shape of their whole face or head.

If you have questions contact your orthodontist for clarification.

David said...

My 8 1/2 year old son just had his expander put in today. It has to be turned once a day. His is necessary to get him ready for more intense dental work. My son hasn't complained about pain only some tightness after the first turn today. He has complained about food getting caught in the expander, but he will adjust soon. My son is use to stuff in his mouth...he was born with a wide unilateral cleft lip and palate and has had over 10 operations. As far as the speech problems go, my son already had some improving speech problems, the RPE did make it worse, but my son is willing to endure the hardship.

David said...

I am an orthodontist and read these entries with great interest. I would like to clear up some misconceptions and correct some errors for you. First off, expanders are NOT new, they have been used for about 50 years with very little change in design. I was trained in their use 30 years ago and used them frequently until 6 years ago when I stopped and have not used one since as they ARE NOT necessary and have all the side effects you have described. All Orthodontists are not the same. It is now possible to treat both children and adults in less than two years with no expanders and almost no extractions. Go to www.damonsystem.com Please do yourself and your kids a favor and find an orthodontist that uses the Damon system. It Is nothing short of remarkable the gorgeous broad natural smiles that can be achieved without the use of barbaric expansion devices.

S said...

Thanks for your thoughts, David. I can't see that the product allows for palate expansion?

I had a hyrex insterted yesterday (I am 35 with various issues that my ortho thought worth treating with this). There is nothing fun about it, that's for sure.

Thanks for the blog piece, there's some interesting reading here.

TiffVH said...

I read through all the postings here - thanks for the info! However, I didn't see any postings about changes to the nose. My 10yo daughter got her RPE at the end of February. Just recently, we've noticed a lump on the bridge of her nose. Will this go away? Did anyone else have this experience?

Jessica-MomForHim said...

I read through all the comments and was surprised that yours was the only one mentioning this! My husband had a palatal expander when he was younger (25 yrs ago?) and has always said it caused a bump on the bridge of his nose, which remains to this day.

Last month I mentioned this to the dental hygienist who recommended one for my daughter and she basically called my husband crazy and a liar (not in those words of course). She said it was not physically possible for the expander to cause the bump in the nose, that he MUST have had some facial trauma that caused the bump. Ummm....he would have remembered facial trauma to his nose, and insists it was the expander--he's not crazy or a liar. And if it happened to your daughter too, then it can't be a coincidence. Or did she have facial trauma and just THINK the bump was from the expander? (which I doubt)

Is this not mentioned as a side effect? Has no one else experienced this? Any dentists or orthodontists want to weigh in on this one?

For background, I had permanent teeth pulled and braces, and would much rather go that route than the expander (and then probable braces), based on my husband's experience. He feels the same way.

ginger said...

I don't understand why people (parents) automatically follow the advice of doctors. They are huamn beings like the rest of us, they make mistakes, and they can be wrong. If an expander is creating self-esteem and other problems with your child, have them removed. You are the customer and that dentist/orthordonist is providing a service. Truth be known, I'm sure there are other methods to accomplish the goal or correct the problem. My child's self esteem is far more valuable than an overlapped tooth. Just say NO. Think about it. That dr.'s office is a business. He/she must generate revenue, are they truely more concerned with your child's well being than you the parent or is it they need new customers to stay in business - pay the bills. Get second opinions. Research it yourself. Weigh the options. If your child is suffering more from having the treatment than he/she would without. Simply schedule an appointment and take them out. What's the worst case scenerio?? Doctors are not God. You're the customer. They are there to advise but is your CHOICE to follow the advice or not. At the end of the day, they must do as you instruct.

Frank said...

Hey there

I had 4 teeth extracted as a teenager, and then braces to close the gaps... yuck!!!!

I wish palatal expanders were around back then!

Anyway, I've made it my mission to expand my palate naturally, and have stumbled onto a cool way of doing so... it's brilliant for relieving tension all over the head, neck and face.

I've posted a YouTube video if anyone's interested...


Best wishes


rock1us said...

I appreciate all the comments. My son is 9.5 and I have had two consults. One orthodontist told me my son needs the expander, along w/braces ($9000). The other said there is no need for an expander that some people just have narrow mouths (like me!). He said that although my son as a more v shape to his teeth, the bottom and top jaw are in alignment and that braces are fine. He suggested pulling teeth and braces...this is exactly what I had done at age 12-14. My mouth is small, but my teeth came out straight and perfect. After reading all the comments, I can't imagine my son going thru all that pain. I would sit up all night like some other Moms. I am cringing at the thought of the expander and can't imagine it being a better route than pulling a few teeth. THANK YOU ALL, you comments have helped me.

Heather Jacobsen said...

My 9 1/2 year old is about a year into palate expansion - no bumps or pain, room for incisors to come in, finally. He also had a gap between the front teeth...very jack-0-lantern overall. Now slightly overlapped, which will require a wire across the front, soon.

He had a pre-existing speech issue; I came here looking for info on when he can stop wearing the appliances to school... so he can make use of speech therapy time at last.

My older daughter had braces starting in 4th grade, and baby teeth pulled to make room for permanent ones to come in. Older son didn't want orthodontics at the time... so I don't know what he needs or needed...

MJ said...


Please e-mail me how!!!


I am 29, dredding braces to expand my jaws. I have straight, but larger teeth, no wisdoms and I CONSTANTLY bite my tongue! -I mean, chomp it! The video is gone. Help please?

The Jacksons said...

Hopefully someone will see this and comment back to me. My son had his expander put in yesterday and we turned it for the first time tonight. Problem is that where there was 1 little hole for the key yesterday at the Ortho, now there are 2 hole's. Which one am I supposed to use? He freaked out when I first turned it, but it seemed to get more comfortable pretty quickly. Thanks so much

ChristineMM said...

Dear The Jacksons,
You should call your orthodontist with questions.

Everyone else, Internet discussion should not replace the advice of your doctors(s).

ChristineMM said...

Update: The speech changes in my kids were temporary. Any lisps that came from the expander lessed over time and then disappeared when the upper expanders were removed.

Elin said...

Hey, I just wanted to tell you about a more gentle expander that can be used in both children and adults. It's called the ALF appliance and it doesn't require a key or anything like that. It's not bulky at all and instead of using heavy forces to widen the jaw, it uses light forces which actually works better.

Not only can it widen the jaw but also bring the upper jaw forward, something that is needed in a lot of people, even those with an overjet. It also corrects cranial distortions and puts the cranial bones into balance.

I'm going for a consultation with an ALF orthodontist in about 2 weeks (I'm 34). To find practitioners, see http://www.alforthodontics.com .

I'm writing this to tell you that there is an alternative to the painful, bulky palate expanders. Those things freak me out to be honest.

Good luck everybody!

Matthew A said...

My six year old daughter just recieved a palate expander yesterday. She hasnt eaten anything since and is talking slurred which I knew would happen. But is all this orthidontistry necessary? She does have an underbite which could leave a small posibility of maybe chewing problems in the future or a small possibilty of a bigger jaw but most of the reason is cosmetic which is rediculous. I think God made her beautifull just the way she is. She still has eaten barely anything besides a little ice cream and chocolate milk and it is going on two days. Should I confer with my wife to have this giant metal piece taken out?

Carley said...

I am getting my palatal expander put in on my upper jaw in about 3 weeks. I am a female and almost 16 years old. My orthodontist told me that since I had waited so long to get this done, I might be done growing and my jaw will not expand, therefore I will have to get it done surgically. I am still getting this done, though. My teeth are so crowded that I literally have teeth growing in front of my other teeth. They look like the picture for #5 on here:


I think that although there are some unpleasant side effects of the expander, it will be worth it later. I am extremely self-conscious of my teeth, and I do get asked about them a lot by people who notice them. Not to mention that having teeth crowded so badly causes pain itself- I am constantly biting my tongue or cheeks because of the space between my teeth on the sides caused from my upper jaw not aligning with my bottom jaw. I also get quite a bit of pain sometimes where my teeth that are crowded out are trying to grow down, but there isn't enough room for them.

I honestly think that even though it will take some getting used to, the results will be worth it. And although I am glad I am finally getting this done, I wish I had gotten it done when I was younger so that there would have been a lot of a better chance of this working, and going by much quicker, too.

Grace said...

I am almost 14 and just got a palette expander put in today. Unlike a lot of other comments I've read, I don't have drooling problems and my speech is fine if I try. The main problem is that I can't swallow! I try to eat and it get stuck in the top of the expander and I have to move it to the very back of my mouth to get it down. I don't know if this is completely normal, but it certainly isn't very fun!

TheWord said...

Hi, I'm a 13year old person who got Expanders 5 days ago (Tuesday).

At first, they hurt alot, my talking was really weird, and I have saliva falling when I laugh.

But that was 5 days ago, now I feel no pain, my talking is almost normal, and I feel little head ace now and then, but that's supposed to happen due to the skull widing.

For me, after I get them out, I get braces, and I can't wait for the end results. I'v been having bad teeth ever since all my baby teeth came out in 4Th grade. I'm scared to smile at people because everyone judges, and I don't want to be judged at all. I also don't want to go through high school with bad teeth, so im pretty relived to be finely getting something that could help my smile get better.

I dont know about other orthodontits, but my ortho. have a good reputation around where i live for being fun, nice, making sure everything is understood, and actually making sure everything goes well.

And also, my Expanders make me feel like a Pirate. It might be on small part in my life, but it has a huge impact for the future.


^^ This is what my expanders look like.

bye :D

Mums The Word said...

My daughter is 8 and she is going this week to have a RPE put in. I am nervous as all get out.

She has a crossbite, and sever crowding in her upper jaw. She will not only need a RPE, but a reverse face mask and full braces. This will be a 3 YEAR venture for us...

My question is, how do you boost their self confidence and get them to understand...Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks :)

ChristineMM said...

Both of my kids are done with the expanders now. They, and I are pleased with their results. The speech change was terrible at first then got a bit better. When they came out their old normal speech came back.

I am not a doctor and can't give medical advice. I only share our experiences.

Erin said...

Hi Christine, what a relief to find your blog post today. My 11 year old son just had a palate expander put in today and is absolutely miserable. He is lisping,drooling, can't eat and is in pain. I feel so badly as a parent for doing this to him so I would like to try and make it easier for him and was hoping you might be able to offer some answers or advice to a few of my questions (if you have time).

First of all, my son has so much saliva and is unable to swallow it with out slurping it down. It makes such a loud noise and I am worried he will be teased when he goes to school tomorrow. Not to mention the noise will be annoying for his classmates/teacher. Did either of your kids experience this? How did they deal with it?

Also when my son eats the food gets stuck in between the roof of his mouth and the expander. Any advice on what he can eat, or how to get the food out? I would appreciate any advice or words of wisdom you can offer. I have to say I am dreading the next 15 months...Until the next phase at least which is top and bottom braces! Thanks so much :o)

ChristineMM said...

Hi Erin, It does get better. The increased saliva is temporary. I don't recall the number of days. The spitting when talking thing was a problem that happened for months and was a source of fights with his younger brother who accused him of intentionally spitting on him. Once in a yarn store my son was talking to his friend while I shopped and the owner flipped out and yelled at him that he was spitting in the store, it was just one palate expander caused incident. I made the kids leave the store and left ASAP. It happened so fast I didn't get the story from my son before I left or I would have informed the shop owner of the real situation.

My kids had to learn to swallow a lot more.

I told my kids to swallow before they started talking. It helped.

They have to make it a habit to swallow more and to swallow before talking.

Certain foods get stuck in between the expander and the roof of the mouth like soft breads, small soft pasta and peanut butter. My kids leanred to do a certain sucking thing with their tongue that worked but made a clicking noise that was a bit annoying. I made them do that with lips shut or it was just too gross and poor etiquette.

If your son can take the time off I might have him stay home for the first 2 days if he is drooling like crazy.

Anyone doing this in the future perhaps you should schedule your appointment for a Friday afternoon and have the weekend at home to adjust before going back to school on Monday. I think that's a good idea.

Erin said...

Hi Christine, Thanks so much for getting back to me and for your great advice. I am glad to hear that over time things get better. I guess my son just has to figure out what works and what doesn't. Funny guess what I sent him for lunch...small pasta noodles because I thought that would be easier to eat. Oh Dear. I guess we will figure it out by trial and error and from great advice from people such as your self who have dealt with this thing before! My son has one more day of school and then can enjoy 2-weeks off for spring break. Hopefully by the time he goes back to school he will have figured it out.
Thanks again for getting back to me.
:o) Erin

Laura said...

My 12 year old daughter was born with an incomplete cleft palate. Her teeth are terrible crowded, both top and bottom. Additionally she has zero air flow through her nose.

She had a Hydrax expander put in yesterday and is miserable. No pain, but her speech is terrible and even more nasal than before. She is complaining about not being able to eat properly and also she almost feels like she is choking because of how she can feel the device towards the back of her throat.

I am worried this was a mistake. Yet I know her upper jaw is not even close to being of a normal size and shape.

PreBigBanger said...

Now that it's been a few years, and you're probably 17 now, would you recommend the expander to our 9-year-old girl? Why or why not? I hope it wasn't too horrible for you.
Thank you

ChristineMM said...

In 2011 we moved 1800 miles. Both of my kids were in the middle of orthodontic care, both waiting for more body growth and for more adult teeth to come in before seeing if regular braces were needed.

The evaluation here by a dentist of my 14.5 year old was that the expander worked great and his jaw is sized well for this teeth. He is not having any teeth pulled out and he is not going to need any braces at all.

The eval here by a dentist for my 11.5 year old said it looks great. Last month he and had an orthodontist eval. He said that my son's palate expander did an EXCELLENT job and was done well. He still has some baby teeth so we are waiting until those fall out and until the new adult teeth come in. He says thanks to the palate expander they feel most likely no adult teeth will need to be removed. He will need top and bottom braces.

This orthodontist told me that use of the palate expander is popular in some areas of the country but not others. It is spreading now though. He said he was in Florida and was able to consult with another orthodontist who'd been doing it for years and he saw many patients with great success so it helped him start to believe in this treatment where before he just didn't know if it was really necessary.

The goal now is to save as many adult teeth as possible. He explained to me that it is because some people who have teeth pulled out have bad alignment of the upper and lower jaw bite which has resulted in some people getting TMJ or bite misalignment that causes chronic headaches.

I am happy my kids had it despite hte initial discomfort and saliva issues. They got through it and it worked for them.

I cannot give anyone advice.

For my family, it worked well. You need to make your own decisions.

Perhaps it would have been better for our family if the orthodontist had explained some things differently and alerted us to the issues with eating and over-production of saliva so we were not surprised by it.

Wendy M said...

I had RPE for a upper jaw that was forming a v point not the lovely u shape it is now. I had this done in LA, CA early 1970. My ortho had me turning it every night. That was way too quick and extremely painful.

I have sinus, migraine, headache pains to this day. I have recently developed a lesion on the nerve behind my eye. The pupil in that eye is stuck open. Holmes Adie Syndrome. I question if RPE procedure contributed to the lesion forming.

The PE teacher was the biggest bully towards my speech problems. I had to ask her for a key to open the towel room up. I could not say key to save my life. The PE teacher then decided to give me enunciation lessons even though I was trying to show her the big pile of metal in the roof of my mouth. This would occur every time I had PE. And they say children are cruel.

Would I have this done again? no. My daughter and son both have the V shaped upper jaw but to a milder extent. My son is an adult, has often says he is happy with things as they are. My daughter is 15 and is not interested in having her jaw shape changed.

Do not fall into the vain, vacuous, celebrity trap of changing your looks. Remember the old saying 'Leave well enough alone'

Cat said...

My 10 year old needs an expansion and top braces. They'd also like to later cut his labial tie, as it goes all the way down to his top front teeth. I'm anxious to read more about this. They'd be doing the expansion quite quickly, over a period of weeks. I understand this can be painful, but I'm also thinking it's over quickly that way. His top jaw is shaped like a v and his teeth are so crowded that some have come in on top of others, and they aren't all fully in yet. I've read as much as I can, and understand this to be a case where it is a good idea to have an expansion done, as some websites say that having it done for anything else is excessive. I don't want to see him in pain, but if we had it done during the summer, it'd be over before school began. I won't make this decision solely on my own of course, I've been talking to him about it, and we're going to decide together. At this point he's asking why not just get braces, but the teeth apparently won't straighten out as nicely. I'm concerned about long term effects of over crowded teeth and a misshapen jaw, and also concerned about the impact of not having this done.

ChristineMM said...

Cat, I cannot give medical advice.

Parent to parents I can say it is standard to seek second opinions. Orthodontists in my area give free first consults including free x-rays because they hope they get all of your business and take in $5K+ from you.

If my child were proposed anything involving cutting or even tooth removal I would seek a second opinion.

Actually in our case since we changed from a relative to a second provider, then moved and got two opinions, I now have 4 opinions on my younger son's mouth, plus the 2 different dentists (due to the move) and all 6 professionals are saying the same exact thing.

Update on my younger:

the upper RPE and the original braces on top 4 teeth at a young age has worked great all all his frnt teeth are in alignment, no braces or anything up there now. Waiting for rest of adult teeth to come out then will get braces, perhaps in 9 months's they estimate.

The lower RPE has the spacer left in to leave a little space so the last baby teeth can come out on their own then let the adult teeth come in. THe lower is jumbled teeth now that some adult teeth are in but it is too early for regular braces on adult teeth. We are making the decision on having teeth pulled after the adult teeth are in all by themselves. We were offered to remove the baby teeth with surgery now but there is no pressing need at all, so we declined. It was presented as optional not mandatory.

My older son at age 15.5 has straight teeth only from RPE and no teeth have been pulled out and it looks like he will never need regular braces at all. Hooray!

kat79 said...

Haven't read all the comments yet but wanted to say as an adult I wish desperately I had been able to have this done as a kid. I know have to have my jaw basically broken in 4 places to fix the way it grew. My son has is 8 and now has a expander in and while it is effecting his speech a little I am glad we are able to do this so he won't have my issues as an adult.

mandy said...

Im 19 and just got the expander in a few days ago along with my braces. My biggest problem is speech. I am terrified this is never going to get better and when i go to work it is so embarasing. I have been trying to find out if it will get better soon.

I know its only early days and this is an old blog and alot of these comments people have already been through it. Can anyone give me an indication of how long for my speech to improve. Im at the point were i wanna rip it out and stop treatment but my family keep reminding me of the end result which will be the best thing as i have a really ugly 'fang' tooth.

I had gotten two different oppinions. The first orhordontist said when i was 16 (three years ago). To do the expander and braces. But scince having to put my teeth on hold for other surgery i am now 19 almost 20. And when going back to that ortho he said to remove 4 teeth.
My father told me to get a 2nd opinion as he didnt feel taking out teeth was a good idea. At.my new orthodontist he said the expander and braces woruld work better and he would never reccomend removing teeth as all my teeth are healthy and no problems apart from allignment.

I feel like i should have removed teeth as i wouldnt have to face the strugle of talking and eating every day. :(. But it is also re assuring to know there are many people facing the same challenges as me. And i cant imaging what it would be like for a younger child.

Gabrielle Tungcul said...

Hi. I'm a speech therapist and on the process of researching whether some of my kids would benefit from jaw expansion appliances as their speech impediment is caused by structural abnormalities (high-arched palate, etc). I wish there's an orthodontist specializing in speech and not just smile.

Well, I've read some of the comments. As for my opinion, it is natural that your speech will change. I think the orthodontist should have told you that before the whole process. It would change because the "space approximation" of the structures involved in speech (e.g. jaw, tongue) needs to adapt. "Space approximation" is very important for any type of movements. If at times, you have tipped over a glass, it's because you have a wrong approximation that your arm is getting near it.

Some people adapt fast but some don't. It would not hurt to consult a speech therapist.

Moreover, there will be change in the quality of your voice. Once the vocal cords vibrate, a "buzz" is heard from it. The shape of the structures where this buzz will pass through to get out shapes it into some sound that you may call your voice. That's what you call "resonance". Just like how a guitar with a hole in the middle works.

Hope this helps in managing your expectations concerning speech when thinking about getting some orthodontic appliance :)