Highlighted review: Open versus closed surgical exposure of canine teeth that are displaced in the roof of the mouth

Nicola Parkin, Philip E Benson, Bikram Thind, Anwar Shah, Ismail Khalil, Saiba Ghafoor

Plain language summary: Open versus closed surgical exposure of eye teeth that are displaced in the roof of the mouth

Review question
Is it better to use an open or closed surgical method to expose eye teeth ('canines') that have become displaced in the roof of the mouth?

Background
Permanent canine teeth in the upper jaw usually erupt into the mouth between the ages of 11 to 12 years. In 2% to 3% of young people, the canine teeth fail to erupt (grow down) and become displaced in the roof of the mouth (palate).This can leave unsightly gaps, cause damage to the surrounding roots (which can be so severe that neighbouring teeth are lost or have to be removed) and, occasionally, result in the development of cysts.

Management of this problem is both time consuming and expensive. It usually involves surgical exposure (uncovering), followed by fixed orthodontic braces for two to three years, to move the canine into the correct position. Two surgical techniques are routinely used in the UK: the closed technique involves uncovering the buried tooth, gluing an attachment onto the exposed tooth and repositioning the palatal flap. Shortly after surgery, an orthodontic brace is used to apply gentle forces to bring the canine into its correct position within the dental arch. The canine moves into position beneath the gum.

An alternative method is the open technique, which involves surgically uncovering the canine tooth as before, but instead of placing an attachment onto the exposed tooth, a window of gum from around the tooth is removed and a dressing (pack) placed to cover the exposed area. Approximately 10 days later, this pack is removed and the canine is allowed to erupt naturally. Once the tooth has erupted sufficiently for an orthodontic attachment to be glued onto its surface, orthodontic braces are used to bring the tooth in line with the other teeth.

Study characteristics
The evidence in this review is up-to-date as of February 2017. Authors with Cochrane Oral Health found three relevant studies, involving 146 participants who had eye teeth displaced in the roof of the mouth, either on one or both sides. The majority of participants were female and the average age in the studies ranged from 14 to 17 years. Two studies were designed in a way that made them likely to be biased.

Key results
We combined results from three studies and found that one technique did not seem to have an advantage over the other for ensuring the movement of the tooth into the correct position without the need for repeat surgery.

Five out of 141 participants analysed were surgical failures, one of which was due to the complication of detachment of the gold chain during surgery. One study reported complications after surgery and found one participant in the closed group had a post-operative infection requiring antibiotics and another participant in the closed group experienced pain during alignment of the canine as the gold chain penetrated through the gum tissue of the palate.

We were unable to combine results from studies for any other outcomes, but individual studies did not show evidence of a difference between the two techniques for pain, discomfort, appearance, gum health, length of treatment time or cost (low to very low quality evidence).

Quality of the evidence
Overall, we assessed the quality of the evidence as low, which means we cannot be certain of the findings.

Author conclusions
It does not seem that one surgical technique is better than the other for moving displaced eye teeth into the correct position, or for other outcomes, but this finding is uncertain because the quality of the evidence is low. This suggests the need for more high-quality studies. Three studies are currently in process. When they are completed, we will include them in an update of this review and may be able to reach firmer conclusions.

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Citation: Parkin N, Benson PE, Thind B, Shah A, Khalil I, Ghafoor S. Open versus closed surgical exposure of canine teeth that are displaced in the roof of the mouth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD006966. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006966.pub3.