Introduction Cold therapy (cryotherapy) is a common procedure recommended by dental surgeons after surgical removal of third molars, which is an invasive intervention that often deals with an expressive inflammatory response.
Objective To investigate whether cryotherapy interferes with clinical outcomes such as pain, edema, and trismus in the postoperative period of mandibular third molar surgeries.
Data Synthesis An electronic search was conducted in the OVID, PubMed, VHL, Science Direct, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases, through March 2018. The eligibility criteria included clinical trials that evaluated the effect of cryotherapy in at least one of the following variables: pain, swelling, and trismus.
Two independent reviewers assessed the studies. The methodological quality of each article was analyzed. The search strategy resulted in 1,088 articles. Following the selection process, 11 studies were included in the systematic review and 4 of them in the meta-analysis. High risk of bias was found in most of the studies according to the Cochrane Handbook assessment. Patients receiving cryotherapy had less edema than patients in the control group at second day follow-up (mean difference [MD]: -0.94; 95%CI [-1.49; -0.39]). There were no statistically significant results when comparing trismus between experimental and control group (MD: 0.43; 95%CI [-0.34;1.20]). There were insufficient available data to support influences in postoperative pain.
Conclusions Cryotherapy applied on the first day after mandibular third molar removal can manage edema in the patients. Well-designed randomized clinical trials to test the efficacy of cryotherapy after surgical removal of third molars are needed to justify its indication.