Flapped versus flapless alveolar ridge preservation: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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Abstract: Alveolar ridge preservation (ARP) procedures can limit bone changes following tooth extraction. Flapped and flapless surgical approaches have been used for ARP; however, there is a lack of strong scientific evidence regarding their specific influences on the clinical outcomes of ARP. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of flapped and flapless surgical approaches on the dimensional changes of hard and soft tissues and patient-reported outcomes following ARP. Electronic databases were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared flapped ARP by means of a coronally advanced flap to flapless ARP where barrier membranes were left exposed. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias tool. Data were analysed using a statistical software program. A total of 754 studies were identified, of which five studies with 149 extraction sockets in 128 participants were included. Overall, meta-analysis did not show any significant differences in the changes in ridge width or height between flapped and flapless ARP. The use of flapless ARP was associated with significantly less postoperative pain, thicker labial soft tissues, and marginally more favourable changes in width of the keratinized tissues compared to the flapped approach. The short-term hard tissue changes following ARP with a flapped or flapless approach are comparable. Postoperative pain and labial soft tissue changes are more favourable following ARP using a flapless approach. Further evidence from long-term RCTs is still required to substantiate the current findings.