Rapid maxillary expansion (RME) is a technique we can use for our youngest patients to widen their upper jaw to improve the function and appearance of their smile.

Who can benefit from RME?

If your child has a small upper jaw, we recommend bringing them to see specialist orthodontist Dr. Jackie Bracken for a consultation between the ages of 8 and 10.

Jackie will examine their teeth and jaws to see if they’re a candidate for RME. The goal of their treatment will be to widen their palate (the roof of their mouth) and achieve harmony with the lower jaw.

If we act quickly while your child is still growing, we can avoid problems from developing in the future, for example, misaligned teeth, soft tissue damage and difficulty chewing.

Hyrax appliance

How does RME work?

To widen your child’s jaw, we use a special Hyrax fixed appliance, which consists of a metal frame that attaches to the molars (back teeth).

Over time, the Hyrax appliance applies pressure to either side of their mouth, pushing the two halves of their jaw apart. New bone will develop and fill in the gap that forms underneath the gum.

We’ll give you a key to adjust your Hyrax appliance at home, along with instructions on when to turn the key. We’ll keep in touch through our DentalMonitoring app and regular check-ups at the practice.

What to expect

Your child will feel some pressure from their Hyrax brace, and their teeth might feel a little achy each time they adjust their appliance. They can take over-the-counter pain relief if needed. We can give you some wax to place over any parts of the appliance that rub their lips or cheeks.

During their treatment, your child will need to take excellent care of their teeth and avoid the following foods and drinks to keep their smile healthy:

  • Sugary foods and drinks between meals
  • Soft drinks and large amounts of fruit juice
  • Hard, chewy or crusty foods (you can cut these up first)
  • Sticky or hard sweets

They’ll need to brush their teeth and appliance at least twice a day and see their dentist for regular check-ups while they’re wearing braces.

Sometimes, as the jaw widens, a gap can appear between the front teeth. This gap isn’t anything to be concerned about, and we’ll close it later in the treatment.

How long does RME take?

RME takes approximately 3–9 months. This includes time to expand the arch and time to allow new bone to develop in the gap.

Most children will go on to wear fixed braces or Invisalign to straighten their teeth for the very best outcome. This phase of their treatment could take 12–24 months, depending on how complicated their case is.

At the end of your child’s transformation, we’ll give them retainers to maintain their results. They’ll need to wear retainers indefinitely to stop their teeth from relapsing. We include one year of aftercare so that we can supervise their retention closely.

To arrange a no-obligation consultation for your child with specialist orthodontist Dr. Jackie Bracken, contact our caring team in Clonmel and Newbridge or book online.