The present systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to test the hypothesis that no facial soft tissue changes occur after nonsurgical rapid maxillary expansion (RME), in order to provide a reference for orthodontists.
PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, OVID, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus, and ScienceDirect databases were electronically and manually searched up to December 2017, and randomized controlled, clinical controlled trials, cohort studies and retrospective studies where soft tissue changes were measured before and after nonsurgical RME were identified. Study appraisal and synthesis were performed by two reviewers who completed the study selection and quality assessment procedures independently and in duplicate. Data from the involved studies were pooled using Revman 5.3.
A total of 1762 articles were identified after the removal of duplicates. After selection and quality assessment, 15 studies met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review, and 13 articles were ultimately included in the meta-analysis. The quality of the involved studies was relatively moderate. Pre-expansion, postexpansion, and postretention data were pooled. The nasal width, alar base width, and distances from the lower lips to the E line showed significant changes after expansion. Moreover, after retention, the nasal width, mouth width, upper philtrum width, and distance from the lower lip to the E line showed significant increases relative to the baseline values. Limitations of the present study included the moderate quality of the included studies and the fact that the results were based on short-term observations of patients in the growth phase.
Our findings suggest that RME results in a significantly increased nasal width, mouth width, upper philtrum width, and distance from the lower lip to the E line after the retention phase. However, the clinical importance of these findings is questionable.