Tuesday, December 17, 2013

RPE Appliance Day One + Pre-Surgery Photos

Today I had the RPE (rapid palatal expander) appliance put in. The whole ordeal of getting this was not fun, for me or for the orthodontist and assistants. They had a hard time putting the elastic spacers in, they had an even harder time fitting the temporary metal bands, and I thought I was going to break my teeth getting the appliance put in. All of the assistants who were involved made jokes that my mouth was a challenge.

Getting the appliance put on was actually pretty quick, but not painless. They did a few dry runs trying it on before cementing it in. My teeth have been so sore that it was really annoying every time they said they were going to try it again. They'd have me bite down on a tool to help push the metal bands around my teeth. Keep in mind I haven't been able to chew anything, let alone bite down as hard as I can on a friggin' metal tool. When they test-tried it on for the last time, I joked, "I don't need the cement, let's just leave it how it is. It ain't coming off if it's that hard to put on, right?" I think they felt a bit bad for me.

But hey, it's on now. I'll admit I'm not thrilled about it. It fits lower in my mouth than I thought it would, and it's far more obtrusive than I thought it would be. I can barely swallow or talk, which is causing me anxiety and panicky feelings. I'm allowed to eat now but I probably will just stick to a protein shake before I head off to curling.

We had a potluck at work today (pre-appointment) and originally I thought I was going to be able to eat whatever I want. Not so with the elastic spacer pain! Fortunately we had a few mushy things so I filled up on hashbrown casserole, beans, and the best clam chowder I've ever had. My coworker's dog and I were both making sad puppy dog faces at the pulled pork and other delicious-looking (but crunchier) food.

Right now my mouth actually hurts less than it did with the elastics, which is surprising. This is going to take some getting used to, though. When my mouth is closed, my tongue is right against the RPE, causing me to produce a lot of saliva. You can't really tell in the photos below, but the RPE is barely higher than my teeth. There's very limited real estate in my mouth now, I have no idea how I'm going to eat. Fortunately, I don't really need to try as I get surgery in two days anyway. I just need to get through the rest of today and Wednesday. We're also having a potluck at curling but I'll have to settle for smells.

Here's the damage. I hate taking selfies but I guess I'll have to get used to it in order to see and show my progress.

The roof of my mouth for the next 4-6 months. The blue is the glue/cement and will hopefully chip off a bit.

Metal mouth side view

The elastic spacers (wore them 5 days to make room for the metal bands)

And now, pre-surgery/palate widening face and smile:
Bye bye narrow palate!

Pre-surgery face

Okay, THIS is my last entry pre-surgery unless something dramatic happens in the next 24 hours (gosh I hope not).

(P.S. I apologize for the long-windedness of my entries as of late. I'm trying to be thorough not just for my own sake, but for anyone reading who is interested in the process. I'm not trying to appeal to everybody; otherwise I'd shorten the entries. If you don't like it, feel free to look at the pictures instead!)


  1. So glad you are documenting with photos!! I am so curious how this is all going to turn out!!!!

    I hope they give you lots and lots of happy drugs for the surgery!!!!

  2. Jaime,

    I had the same RPE as a middle school aged kid. I remember it was the hardest thing to get used to (but I did eventually) and it ALWAYS tickled/felt insanely weird when I had to turn the lever each day to expand it. My mom wouldn't believe me as to how I could feel it in my nose, haha!

    Thanks for the birthday wishes on Facebook. I got to see Anthony play hockey last night, hopefully I'll get to hang out sometime when you're in town too!


    p.s. When they tell you not to eat popcorn with the RPE in, believe them. It hurts like crazy if you get a kernel stuck between it and the roof of your mouth!! :D

    1. Thanks, Sam! I'll take your advice about the popcorn. Too bad, I love popcorn, too!

      It seems like so many people have the RPE in which is great because I'm getting lots of advice and sympathy. :) Glad to hear you didn't have too much pain turning the key, I've heard varying stories about that part!!



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