Purpose: In view of the positive outcome of orthodontic treatment using rapid maxillary expansion (RME) on sleep-disordered breathing, we generated data on RME in children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by evaluating objective and subjective data over a 36-month follow-up period, to determine whether RME is effective in the long-term treatment of OSA. We selected all patients with dental malocclusions and OSA syndrome (OSAS) confirmed by polysomnography.
Methods: Ten of the 14 children who completed the 12-month therapeutic trial using RME were enrolled in our follow-up study. The study was performed 24 months after the end of the RME orthodontic treatment. We enrolled all children presented with deep, retrusive or crossbite at the orthodontic evaluation. All subjects underwent an overnight polysomnography at the baseline, after 1 year of treatment and 24 months after the end of the orthodontic treatment. The children's mean age was 6.6 ± 2.1 years at entry and 9.7 ± 1.6 years at the end of follow-up.
Results: After treatment, the apnea hypopnoea index (AHI) decreased and the clinical symptoms had resolved by the end of the treatment period. Twenty-four months after the end of the treatment, no significant changes in the AHI or in other variables were observed.
Conclusions: RME may be a useful approach in children with malocclusion and OSAS, as the effects of such treatment were found to persist 24 months after the end of treatment.