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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2011 Aug;140(2):146-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2011.02.019.

Does rapid maxillary expansion have long-term effects on airway dimensions and breathing?

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



In this systematic review, we identified and qualified the evidence of long-term reports on the effects of rapid maxillary expansion (RME) on airway dimensions and functions.


Electronic databases (Ovid, Scirus, Scopus, Virtual Health Library, and Cochrane Library) were searched from 1900 to September 2010. Clinical trials that assessed airway changes at least 6 months after RME in growing children with rhinomanometry, acoustic rhinometry, computed tomography, or posteroanterior and lateral radiographs were selected. Studies that used surgically assisted RME and evaluated other simultaneous treatments during expansion, systemically compromised subjects, or cleft patients were excluded. A methodologic-quality scoring process was used to identify which studies would be most valuable.


Fifteen articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria, and full texts were assessed. Three were excluded, and 12 were assessed for eligibility. Four articles with low methodologic quality were not considered. The remaining 8 were qualified as moderate. The posteroanterior radiographs showed that nasal cavity width increases; in the lateral radiographs, decreased craniocervical angulation was associated with increases of posterior nasal space. Cone-beam computed tomography did not show significant increases of nasal cavity volume. Rhinomanometry showed reduction of nasal airway resistance and increase of total nasal flow, and acoustic rhinometry detected increases of minimal cross-sectional area and nasal cavity volume.


There is moderate evidence that changes after RME in growing children improve the conditions for nasal breathing and the results can be expected to be stable for at least 11 months after therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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