ORTHODONTIC RETENTION. Studies of retention capacity, cost-effectiveness and long-term stability.
Retention strategies, cost-effectiveness and long-term stability of treatment outcome are essential aspects of orthodontic treatment planning. The overall aim of this thesis was to compare and evaluate three different retention strategies, with special reference to short- and long-term clinical stability and cost-effectiveness. The approach was evidence-based, hence randomized controlled methodology was used in order to generate high levels of evidence. This thesis is based on four studies: Papers I and II are based on randomized controlled trials, evaluating the stability of treatment outcome after one and two years of retention, using three different retention strategies: a maxillary vacuum-formed retainer combined with a mandibular canine-to-canine retainer; a maxillary vacuum-formed retainer combined with stripping of the mandibular anterior teeth and a prefabricated positioner. Paper III presents a cost-minimization analysis of two years of retention treatment. Paper IV is based on a randomized controlled trial documenting the results five years post-retention. The following conclusions were drawn: Papers I and II. From a clinical perspective, asssessment after one year of retention disclosed that the three retention methods were successful in retaining the orthodontic treatment results. After two years of retention, all three retention methods were equally effective in controlling relapse at a clinically acceptable level. Most of the relapse occurred during the first year of retention; only minor or negligible changes were found during the second year. The subjects were grouped according to the level of compliance (excellent or good). After two years of retention there was a negative correlation between growth in body height and relapse of mandibular LII in the group of subjects with excellent compliance. The group with good compliance showed a positive correlation (Paper II, Figure 3). After two years of retention, growth in body height, initial crowding and gender had no significant influence on mandibular LII (Paper II, Figure 4 and Table 4). Paper III. The cost minimization analysis disclosed that although the three retention methods achieved clinically similar results, the associated societal costs differed. After two years of retention, the vacuum-formed retainer (VFR) in combination with a canine-to-canine retainer (CTC) was the least cost-effective retention appliance. Paper IV. After five years or more out of retention, the three retention methods had achieved equally favourable clinical results. Key conclusion and clinical implications. This study compared the short- and long-term outcomes of orthodontic retention by three different methods: a maxillary vacuum-formed retainer combined with a mandibular canine-to-canine retainer; a maxillary vacuum-formed retainer combined with stripping of the mandibular anterior teeth and a prefabricated positioner. All methods gave equally positive clinical results in both the short-term, i.e. after one and two years of retention, and in the long-term, five years or more post-retention. After two years of retention, the level of compliance affected the retention treatment result. However, no such effect was shown for body height, the severity of initial crowding or gender. Today, there is increasing emphasis on the importance of economic aspects of healthcare. Of the three methods evaluated in this study, the least cost-effective, after two years of retention, was a vacuum-formed retainer combined with a bonded canine-to-canine retainer. The clinical implication of this finding is that in patients meeting the inclusion criteria, interproximal stripping of the mandibular anterior teeth, or the use of a prefabricated positioner, are highly appropriate alternatives to a mandibular bonded canine-to-canine retainer. The overall conclusions are that there are a number of effective retention methods available and the clinician is not limited to routine use of a bonded mandibular canine-to-canine retainer. The most appropriate retention method should be selected on an individual, case to case basis, taking into account such variables as orthodontic diagnosis, the expected level of patient compliance, patient preferences and financial considerations.