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ISRN Dentistry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 290964, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Changes in the Upper and Lower Pharyngeal Airway Spaces Associated with Rapid Maxillary Expansion

1Division of Orthodontics and Periodontics, Dental Department, Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry & Pharmacy, P.O. Box 84891, Riyadh 11681, Saudi Arabia
2Department of Orthodontics, School of Dental Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214-3008, USA
3Division of Orthodontics, Department of Preventive Dental Science, Faculty of Dentistry, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80209, Jeddah 22254, Saudi Arabia

Received 19 March 2012; Accepted 23 April 2012

Academic Editors: M. Del Fabbro and A. Vissink

Copyright © 2012 Fitin Aloufi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. The primary objectives of this retrospective study were first to compare the upper and lower pharyngeal airway spaces between orthodontic patients with and without maxillary constriction and second to evaluate the effect of rapid maxillary expansion (RME) on these airway spaces. A secondary objective was to compare the mode of breathing between groups. Materials and Methods. The experimental (RME) group consisted of 30 patients (mean age, 1 4 . 2 Β± 1 . 3 years, 16 boys and 14 girls) with maxillary constriction who were treated with hyrax-type RME. The control group comprised the records of age- and gender matched patients (mean age, 1 3 . 8 Β± 1 . 5 years, 16 boys and 14 girls) with no maxillary constriction but requiring nonextraction comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Cephalometric measurements in the sagittal dimension of upper and lower airway spaces for the initial and final records were recorded. Mode of breathing and length of treatment were also compared. Results. The sagittal dimension of the upper airway increased significantly in the RME group ( m e a n = 1 . 3  mm) compared to the control group ( m e a n = 0 . 5  mm), 𝑃 = 0 . 0 1 6 . However, there was no significant difference in the lower pharyngeal airway measurement between the RME group ( m e a n = 0 . 2 ) and the control group ( m e a n = 0 . 4 ), 𝑃 = 0 . 3 0 . There was no significant difference with respect to mode of breathing between the two groups ( 𝑃 = 0 . 7 9 ). Conclusion. Rapid maxillary expansion (RME) during orthodontic treatment may have a positive effect on the upper pharyngeal airway, with no significant change on the lower pharyngeal airway.