Mom Gets Braces: Palate Expander (2)

Palate ExpanderThis is my second post in my series about getting braces. If I thought that Spacers were difficult, they were a walk in the park compared to the Palate Expander!

After two weeks of spacers (the second week thicker than the first), a mold was made of my mouth to make the Palate Expander. (Technically I think it is called a Rapid Palatal Expander.) That part was a piece of cake. On Thursday of last week I went in to have the expander installed. That was also easy. And that was the start of my grumpiness.

Why The Palate Expander?

Apparently my mouth isn’t big enough for my teeth. I guess when people say I have a “big mouth” it only relates to the amount that I talk, not really the size available for my teeth. My orthodontist decided that we would try the Palate Expander before taking the more drastic method of extraction. My daughter had the exact same device several years ago. However, her palate was not yet formed and the expander was able to do its job perfectly. My palate is formed already. The hope is that it will slightly move the teeth out just enough to make room for the braces to do their correcting.

Problems With the Palate Expander

Where should I start? My first “meal” was broccoli soup and the hot broccoli immediately lodged itself between the expander and the roof of my mouth. So I switched to mainly soft food with no chunks for awhile. I still found myself trying to clear the ick out of the expander after every single bite.

Then there is talking. I mentioned before that I like to talk. Now I hate to talk. Not only do I sound like I can’t say half of my letters, but it hurts. My tongue is raw from rubbing against the expander so much. Which then makes swallowing hurt as well. Even swallowing ibuprofen is a chore.

That covers the pain from the middle of the expander. It also hurts where it is cemented into my molars (one of which is a crown). I use Anbesol at night on those to be able to fall asleep. And I’ve given up chewing on my right side completely.

I did buy a Waterpik Friday night to help keep the whole thing clean because I hate the thought of it being gross up there. Unfortunately all I succeeded in doing was spraying down my sink and mirror.

I’m Grumpy

Right now it is Day 5 and I am seriously questioning my decision to go through with this. I can’t eat. I wake up every few hours that I am sleeping. I dread talking on the phone. I can’t even kiss my husband because my mouth is constantly full of either numbing gel or wax. And it tastes like I’ve been licking a flag pole.

In general, I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Which I have no right to do. This is a choice that I made and everyone says I will be happy about in the long run. Plus I subjected my daughter to it and she didn’t complain nearly as much as I am.

They cranked the device twice on Thursday to tighten it and tonight I have to start cranking it myself–3 times a week for the next 3 weeks. I’m sure that will make it even worse.

Hopefully by my next blog post I will have a better attitude about it all. If not, I may need some Prozac.


  1. Michelle says

    Thank you so much for posting about your journey! I’m 30 and had my rpe removed today and was fitted for a bigger one that will be put back in tomorrow morning. Unfortunately the rpe alone didn’t work for me and I will be having SARPE surgery. I am in so much pain from where it was removed today and I can’t imagine how bad it’s gonna hurt tomorrow when they put in the new one :/

    • Tricia says

      I am so sorry that the rpe didn’t work for you! The one thing I can say is that in retrospect, I am happy that I went through all of this and it went by quicker than it seemed. I’m now just a couple of months away from getting the braces off completely and I see such a huge difference! When I go back and read this post I think to myself “Could it have really been that bad??” I hardly even remember going through it. I know at the time I really felt like it was the end of the world and there was no way that I was going to make it through all of it. The pain is temporary. The beautiful smile will last (hopefully!) for decades to come!

  2. Kim H says

    I feel for ya! My son had that and I had to crank it every day and it made me so nervous. Sometimes I couldn’t get the “wrench” in because I hadn’t turned it all the way the time before. He said it was uncomfortable the first week or so but then it was OK. He did take some Motrin as needed. But, it did work, he’s had his braces now for 1 1/2 years and I’m hoping there off in another 6 months.
    Hang in there!

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