What is MARPE (Micro-implant Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion)?

A narrow maxilla is very common among children and adults and causes a broad range of problems from dental crowding, incisor flaring and crossbites, to obstructive sleep apnea and facial asymmetry. The maxilla can be very easily expanded in early childhood with a palatal expansion appliance. Starting as early as age 12, the growth plate in the center of the upper jaw (mid-palatal suture) can begin to fuse. If this suture fuses, then traditional palatal expansion will not work. A similar appliance, called a MARPE, can however be used as long as the upper jaw has not fully matured. A MARPE is a rapid palatal expander (RPE) that uses small implants to anchor it to both sides of the palate, instead of just attaching to the teeth. Using MARPE, we have been able to expand the upper jaw in men up to age 30 and women up to age 40. In cases where the mid-palatal suture has matured too much for the MARPE to be successful on its own, there are minor surgical procedures, like mid-palatal corticopuncture, that can often be performed to allow a more mature suture to open so that MARPE can be successful. In cases where the upper jaw has fully matured, surgical orthodontics may be required if expansion is needed.