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

Canines in the upper jaw usually erupt in the mouth between the age of 11 to 12 years. In 2% to 3% of the population these teeth fail to erupt into the mouth and become lodged in the roof of the mouth (palate), they are then referred to as 'palatally impacted'. Their impaction can cause damage to the roots of neighbouring teeth and the damage may be so severe that these neighbouring teeth are subsequently lost. The tissue around these impacted canine teeth may undergo cystic change. Also, impaction of these teeth can lead to aesthetic problems.
Management of this problem is both time consuming and expensive and involves surgical exposure (uncovering) followed by fixed braces for 2 to 3 years to bring the canine into its correct position. Two techniques for exposing palatal canines are routinely used in the UK: One method (closed technique) involves surgically uncovering the tooth, gluing an attachment on 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 mucosa. An alternative method (open technique) is to surgically uncover the canine tooth as before, but instead of gluing an attachment on the exposed tooth, removing a window of tissue from around the tooth and placing a dressing (pack) 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 brace treatment is commenced to bring the tooth into line. The canine moves into its correct position above the mucosa.
This review has revealed that currently, there is no evidence to support one surgical technique over the other in terms of dental health, aesthetics, economics and patient factors. Until high quality clinical trials with participants randomly allocated into the two treatment groups are conducted, methods of exposing canines will be left to the personal choice of the surgeon and orthodontist.

Authors' conclusions: 

This review has revealed that currently, there is no evidence to support one surgical technique over the other in terms of dental health, aesthetics, economics and patient factors. Until high quality clinical trials with participants randomly allocated into the two treatment groups are conducted, methods of exposing canines will be left to the personal choice of the surgeon and orthodontist.

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Background: 

Palatal canines are upper permanent canine (eye) teeth that have become displaced in the roof of the mouth. They are a frequently occurring anomaly, present in 2% to 3% of the population. Management of this problem is both time consuming and expensive and involves surgical exposure (uncovering) followed by fixed braces for 2 to 3 years to bring the canine into alignment within the dental arch. Two techniques for exposing palatal canines are routinely used in the UK: one method (the closed technique) involves orthodontically moving the canine into its correct position beneath the palatal mucosa and the second method (the open technique) involves orthodontically moving the canine into its correct position above the palatal mucosa.

Objectives: 

To establish if clinical, patient centred and economic outcomes are different according to whether an 'open' or 'closed' technique is employed for uncovering palatal canines.

Search strategy: 

MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and the Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register were searched (to 29th February 2008). There were no restrictions with regard to publication status or language.

Selection criteria: 

Patients receiving surgical treatment to correct upper palatally impacted canines. There was no restriction for age, presenting malocclusion or the type of active orthodontic treatment undertaken. Unilateral and bilaterally displaced canines were included.

Trials including participants with craniofacial deformity/syndrome were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently and in duplicate assessed studies for inclusion. The Cochrane Collaboration statistical guidelines were to be followed for data synthesis.

Main results: 

No studies were found that met the inclusion criteria.