Background Permanent canines are amongst the teeth most affected by impaction and ectopic eruption. Although impacted canines are often subjected to surgical exposure and alignment with either the open or the closed technique for many decades, their treatment effects have not yet been systematically asssessed.
Objectives The aim of this systematic review was to critically assess whether significant differences exist in the outcomes of the open or closed surgical exposure of impacted canines.
Search methods An unrestricted electronic search of nine databases from inception to December 2016 was performed.
Selection criteria methods Included were randomized or prospective non-randomized studies comparing open versus closed exposure of impacted canines in human patients.
Data collection and analysis After duplicate study selection, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment according to the Cochrane guidelines, random-effects meta-analyses of mean differences (MDs) and odds ratios (ORs), including their 95 per cent confidence intervals (CIs) were performed, followed by subgroup and sensitivity analyses.
Results A total of eight unique studies and a total of 433 (30.1% male/59.9% female) patients were included, with an average age of 15.2 years and a total of 453 impacted canines (48.6% and 51.4% in the open and closed exposure, respectively). Open exposure of impacted canines was associated with reduced duration of canine alignment (two studies; MD = -2.14 months; 95% CI = -4.23 to -0.05 months; P < 0.05; moderate heterogeneity and moderate quality) and lower odds of tooth ankylosis (one study; OR = 0.15; 95% CI = 0.03-0.83; P < 0.05; low quality) compared to closed exposure; both findings being independent of canine localization. However, initial alignment of palatally impacted canines took overall significantly longer than labially impacted canines (8.87 versus 4.17 months).
Conclusions Based on existing evidence, open surgical exposure seems to be superior in treatment duration and ankylosis risk over the closed technique. Due to the limited number of small included trials, further research is needed for robust clinical recommendations.