What is the MARPE Adult Expander

All about MARPE Expansion for Adults


MARPE adult expander


MARPE is “mini-implant assisted rapid palatal expansion.” So, basically MARPE is a surgical orthodontic treatment to rapidly expand the palate of an individual. In-other-words, MARPE is a treatment that will only make your upper jaw or palate wider. So what is the point/goal of this treatment and how does MARPE work?


How does MARPE work?


how MARPE works


Basically a metal expansion mechanism is fastened to the palatal bone with titanium screws. The MARPE also sits on or around some of the back teeth as well for anchorage. The expansion mechanism has a “jack-screw” that is turned every 1-3 days as prescribed by the dentist. The basic concept is that the device pushes quickly and forcefully to purposely open up a large space between the right and left sides of the palate bone. Hence the term “rapid palatal expansion” or “RPE.” The palate bone is also called the maxilla. The rapid pressure comes with some risk as the pressure can cause other bones in the face to become compressed, stuck and misaligned.


MSE and MARPE skeletal expander video by Dr. Adams


YouTube video


How much does MARPE treatment cost?


It is important to note that MARPE is not a stand-alone treatment because all that is accomplished during MARPE is getting the upper jaw wider. Nothing has been done to the lower jaw. There is almost always a large space created between the upper two front teeth. And the truth of the matter is MARPE is just the start of a much more expensive orthodontic treatment course. The MARPE device itself can cost $6000-$10000 depending on who is doing it. Other treatments commonly needed with MARPE include:

  1. Braces $5000-$7500 for teeth straightening and closing spaces
  2. Invisalign $5500-$8000 for teeth straightening and closing spaces
  3. Homeoblock device or DNA Appliance to improve facial asymmetry, palatal expansion, improve relationship between upper and lower jaw, forward growth. Expand the lower jaw. $6500- $12,000
  4. Other jaw surgeries such as maxillary-mandibular advancement or MMA surgery to improve relationship between upper a lower jaw $10,000 – $25,000.


So I guess the real question is how much does it cost to receive all the treatment one needs to meet their treatment goals including the MARPE? Sometimes the answer is not clear when MARPE treatment is initiated because not all cases are straight forward. On the average, a typical MARPE case will also involve at least some teeth alignment with braces or Invisalign. Successful cases also usually involve diagnosis and treatment of lip and tongue ties and sessions with a myofunctional therapist. Especially when the goals of treatment include TMJ, sleep, airway and facial profile complaints.


Alternatives to MARPE adult expanders


Alternatives to MARPE include braces, Invisalign, jaw surgery and Vivos and Homeoblock appliances. How do we improve TMJ, sleep, airway and facial profile complaints. Usually the root cause is undersized and imbalanced jaws/bite and dysfunction of the tongue, chewing and facial muscles. Think of the mouth as an undersized room that needs to be wider, deeper and taller. Let say we need an 12x15ft room with 8 foot ceilings and we only have 8×10 with 6 foot ceilings. The furniture does not fit and all the activities in the room do not work well. So we need a wider, deeper and taller jaw. And jaws that are more balanced. How do we fix it?


Braces and Invisalign


Braces and Invisalign are great treatments but all they do is move the teeth around. Moving teeth around the mouth is not going to work if you need more room. Moving teeth can help but we need a bigger mouth.


MARPE adult palatal expansion


The MARPE will get the upper jaw wider but that is it. It will also open up a huge space between the upper front teeth. Now if we did not need braces before, now we definitely do. MARPE does nothing to the size, shape and position of the lower jaw. And MARPE does not correct any facial asymmetries. MARPE has been accused of causing facial asymmetries, but it usually does not. MARPE will make existing facial asymmetries bigger and more noticeable. MARPE is just one piece to the puzzle and once the MARPE is used other treatments become necessary.


Homeoblock and Vivos removable adult expanders


homeoblock expander


Homeoblock appliances are capable of 3D facial growth, improving facial symmetry and the relationship between the upper and lower jaw. That is these appliances can create a wider, deeper and taller jaw with more balance. The con of the Homeoblock appliance is that the treatment takes wearing an appliance at night for 12-24 months. The Homeoblock is capable of starting and finishing many cases. It is possible, that no other treatment is necessary other than myofunctional therapy and release of any lip and tongue ties. But certain cases will need Invisalign or braces 6 months after Homeoblock treatment.

Homeoblock and DNA appliances can get a decent amount of expansion of many adults without much teeth movement if done properly. The one thing these appliance can do that the others cannot is correct symmetries. The Homeoblock appliance also can advance the mandible and expand the mandible. The Homeoblock cannot get as much expansion as the MARPE but there are many more advantages to the Homeoblock appliance. The Homeoblock is also much less expensive and more conservative than treatments involving MARPE.

In many cases it is best to start a case that may involve MARPE, with a Vivos or Homeoblock device. In fact the Homeoblock may complete the entire case without the need for any additional treatment (including Invisalign and braces).

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