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The aims of this study were to compare the changes in posterior dental inclination and angulation, and the posterior tooth crown sizes and alveolar ridge thicknesses consequent to the orthodontic procedures of closing and opening of mandibular first molar edentulous spaces.The sample comprised 16 patients (4 men, 12 women) with an initial mean age of 34.17 years and unilateral or bilateral absence of mandibular permanent first molars. The space closure group (SCG) comprised 12 hemiarches with a mandibular first molar edentulous space varying from 2 to 7 mm, orthodontically treated with space closure. The space opening group (SOG) comprised 14 quadrants with a mandibular first molar edentulous space varying from 7.1 to 12 mm, orthodontically treated with space reopening for prosthetic replacement. Digital dental models were obtained before treatment and after space closure or opening, and posterior tooth angulation and inclination, cervico-occlusal crown height, and alveolar ridge thickness were evaluated. Interphase and intergroup comparisons were performed with dependent t tests and t tests, respectively (P <0.05).Mandibular second molar uprighting and changes in buccolingual inclination of the posterior teeth were similar in the groups. The second molar cervico-occlusal crown height increased in the SCG and decreased in the SOG. The alveolar ridge thickness increased in the SCG and remained stable in the SOG.The only significant intergroup differences were that the second molar cervico-occlusal crown height and the alveolar ridge thickness increased in the SCG, and decreased and remained stable in the SOG.We evaluated dental changes after treatment in adults with mandibular first molar loss.Space was closed or opened for prosthetic rehabilitation.Both opening and closure demonstrated appropriate results.Treatment planning should consider the cost-benefit ratio and treatment time.Dimensions of edentulous spaces, third molars, and periodontal conditions are also important.