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Rapid maxillary expansion: a clinical insight for the general dental practitioner

From Volume 16, Issue 4, October 2023 | Pages 197-202


Jack Slaymaker

BDS Pg Dip (Resto), BDS, Pg Dip (Resto)

General Dental Practitioner, Cambridge

Articles by Jack Slaymaker

Email Jack Slaymaker

Julian Woolley

BDS, MFDS RCS (Ed), BDS, MFDS RCS(Ed), PG Cert (Dent Ed)

Dental Core Trainee 1, King's College Dental Hospital

Articles by Julian Woolley

Sunil Hirani

BDS, BSc, FDS RCS(Eng), MSc, MOrth, FDS(Orth), BSc (Hons), BDS, MSc, FDSRCS(Eng), MOrthRCS(Eng), GCAP(KCL)

Consultant Orthodontist, Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Bedfordshire

Articles by Sunil Hirani


Rapid maxillary expansion is an orthodontic treatment approach for corrections of transverse discrepancies, such as crossbites. Rapid maxillary expansion expands the palate by applying forces to the teeth and surrounding tissues to separate the mid-palatal suture, allowing for the correction of the indicated malocclusions. A general dental practitioner should be aware of the indications, treatment strategy and play an important role in the timely referral of patients for orthodontic assessment. This article offers a comprehensive overview of rapid maxillary expansion, expansion protocols, and an in-depth analysis of the prevalent characteristics associated with expansion, along with evidence-based recommendations for effective management.

CPD/Clinical relevance: This paper aims to give the general dental practitioner clinical insight into rapid maxillary expansion, the devices used and the indications for use.


Rapid maxillary expansion (RME) is an orthodontic treatment used to expand the maxilla in the transverse plane. It can be used to correct posterior crossbites, relieve dental crowding and create space for impacted canines and in the correction of class III malocclusions.1,2.

RME involves using a specially designed appliance secured to the patient's maxillary teeth or palate. The appliance gradually widens the maxilla by exerting high forces on the bones that make up the palate. Over time, this force results in the separation of the mid-palatal suture leading to bony remodelling across the newly created space.

When seeing their regular patients, dentists may come across RME in either the active treatment or retention phases. For this reason, general dentists should have a clinical awareness of this procedure, particularly to communicate with patients and their relatives regarding the indications and observed effects of treatment. This article offers a comprehensive overview of RME, encompassing the history, anatomy, indication, various appliance options, expansion protocols and evidence-based recommendations for troubleshooting and management.

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