Rapid Palatal Expander
There are several designs for these dividers; but all have a center screw that must be turned with a key. Your doctor will tell you when to turn your key; follow the doctors instructions carefully.
The divider is "activated" by placing the key into the key hole in the center screw and then gently pushing the key toward the back of the mouth one notch.
Ordinarily the turning must be done by someone other than the patient-- so it is IMPORTANT the string attached to the key be wrapped around the finger to protect the patient from swallowing the key.
Sometimes activating the divider causes some slight pain near the bridge of the nose and out toward the cheek bones. Ask your doctor for suggestion to soothe the discomfort.
The first noticeable effect of the divider is that the front teeth begin to separate. This is a sign that the appliance is working properly. The space will close naturally when the key turning is stopped.
After the dividing screw has been opened a proper amount, the patient will continue to wear the appliance for a period of time your doctor will determine. This allows new bone time to fill in and insures that the widening will not relapse.
NOTE: On older patients the divider sometimes will not work, since their bone has already matured. Activating the divider in these cases can cause enough discomfort that it is better to remove the divider.