Background: Crowded teeth develop when there is not enough space in the jaws into which the teeth can erupt. Crowding can affect baby teeth (deciduous dentititon), adult teeth (permanent dentition), or both, and is a common reason for referral to an orthodontist. Crowded teeth can affect a child's self-esteem and quality of life. Early loss of baby teeth as a result of tooth decay or trauma, can lead to crowded permanent teeth. Crowding tends to increase with age, especially in the lower jaw.
Objectives: To assess the effects of orthodontic intervention for preventing or correcting crowded teeth in children. To test the null hypothesis that there are no differences in outcomes between different orthodontic interventions for preventing or correcting crowded teeth in children.
Search methods: Cochrane Oral Health's Information Specialist searched four bibliographic databases up to 11 January 2021 and used additional search methods to identify published, unpublished and ongoing studies.
Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated any active interventions to prevent or correct dental crowding in children and adolescents, such as orthodontic braces or extractions, compared to no or delayed treatment, placebo treatment or another active intervention. The studies had to include at least 80% of participants aged 16 years and under.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors, independently and in duplicate, extracted information regarding methods, participants, interventions, outcomes, harms and results. We resolved any disagreements by liaising with a third review author. We used the Cochrane risk of bias tool to assess the risk of bias in the studies. We calculated mean differences (MDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for continuous data and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs for dichotomous data. We undertook meta-analysis when studies of similar comparisons reported comparable outcome measures, using the random-effects model. We used the I2 statistic as a measure of statistical heterogeneity.
Main results: Our search identified 24 RCTs that included 1512 participants, 1314 of whom were included in analyses. We assessed 23 studies as being at high risk of bias and one as unclear. The studies investigated 17 comparisons. Twenty studies evaluated fixed appliances and auxiliaries (lower lingual arch, lower lip bumper, brackets, archwires, lacebacks, headgear and adjunctive vibrational appliances); two studies evaluated removable appliances and auxiliaries (Schwarz appliance, eruption guidance appliance); and two studies evaluated dental extractions (lower deciduous canines or third molars). The evidence should be interpreted cautiously as it is of very low certainty. Most interventions were evaluated by a single study. Fixed appliances and auxiliaries One study found that use of a lip bumper may reduce crowding in the early permanent dentition (MD -4.39 mm, 95% CI -5.07 to -3.71; 34 participants). One study evaluated lower lingual arch but did not measure amount of crowding. One study concluded that coaxial nickel-titanium (NiTi) archwires may cause more tooth movement in the lower arch than single-stranded NiTi archwires (MD 6.77 mm, 95% CI 5.55 to 7.99; 24 participants). Another study, comparing copper NiTi versus NiTi archwires, found NiTi to be more effective for reducing crowding (MD 0.49 mm, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.63, 66 participants). Single studies did not show evidence of one type of archwire being better than another for Titinol versus Nitinol; nickel-titanium versus stainless steel or multistrand stainless steel; and multistranded stainless steel versus stainless steel. Nor did single studies find evidence of a difference in amount of crowding between self-ligating and conventional brackets, active and passive self-ligating brackets, lacebacks added to fixed appliances versus fixed appliances alone, or cervical pull headgear versus minor interceptive procedures. Meta-analysis of two studies showed no evidence that adding vibrational appliances to fixed appliances reduces crowding at 8 to 10 weeks (MD 0.24 mm, 95% CI -0.81 to 1.30; 119 participants). Removable appliances and auxiliaries One study found use of the Schwarz appliance may be effective at treating dental crowding in the lower arch (MD -2.14 mm, 95% CI -2.79 to -1.49; 28 participants). Another study found an eruption guidance appliance may reduce the number of children with crowded teeth after one year of treatment (OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.68; 46 participants); however, this may have been due to an increase in lower incisor proclination in the treated group. Whether these gains were maintained in the longer term was not assessed. Dental extractions One study found that extracting children's lower deciduous canines had more effect on crowding after one year than no treatment (MD -4.76 mm, 95 CI -6.24 to -3.28; 83 participants), but this was alongside a reduction in arch length. One study found that extracting wisdom teeth did not seem to reduce crowding any more than leaving them in the mouth (MD -0.30 mm, 95% CI -1.30 to 0.70; 77 participants).
Authors' conclusions: Most interventions were assessed by single, small studies. We found very low-certainty evidence that lip bumper, used in the mixed dentition, may be effective for preventing crowding in the early permanent dentition, and a Schwarz appliance may reduce crowding in the lower arch. We also found very low-certainty evidence that coaxial NiTi may be better at reducing crowding than single-stranded NiTi, and that NiTi may be better than copper NiTi. As the current evidence is of very low certainty, our findings may change with future research.
Copyright © 2021 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.