Malocclusions and Orthodontic Treatment in a Health Perspective

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SBU’s conclusions

Consequences of Untreated Malocclusions

  • When the patient has a large overjet and the upper lip does not protect the front teeth, the incidence of trauma to the anterior teeth of the maxilla is higher (Evidence Grade 3).
  • If the maxillary canines are incorrectly positioned in the jaw bone before their eruption, the risk that they will damage the roots of the front teeth as they emerge increases (ectopic eruption) (Evidence Grade 3).
  • The prevalence of caries in people with occlusal deviations is the same as in those whose bite is normal (Evidence Grade 3).
  • A correlation between moderate malocclusions and negative effects on the self-image of 11–14-year-olds has not been found (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Adults with untreated malocclusions express more dissatisfaction with the appearance of their bite than adults without malocclusions (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Scientific evidence is insufficient for conclusions on a correlation between specific untreated malocclusions and symptomatic temporomandibular joint disorders.

Priority Indices for Orthodontic Treatment

  • Scientific evidence for conclusions concerning the validity (that is, if a tool measures what it is intended to measure) of morphological priority indices (indices based on deviations in the bite and the dental arch from an established norm) are lacking.
  • Scientific evidence is insufficient for conclusions concerning the validity of esthetic indices from a societal perspective.

The Decision to Undergo Orthodontic Treatment

  • Orthodontic treatment is initiated in most cases by the general dental practitioner (Evidence Grade 3).
  • The appearance of the teeth is the patients’ most important reason for seeking orthodontic treatment (Evidence Grade 3).

Morphologic Stability and Patient Satisfaction 5 years or more after Orthodontic Treatment

  • Treatment of crowding aligns the dental arch. However, the length and width of the mandibular dental arch gradually shorten in the long term, and crowding of the anterior teeth can reoccur. This condition cannot be predicted at the individual level (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Treatment of large overjet with fixed appliances according to Herbst* normalizes the occlusion. Relapses occur, but cannot be predicted at the individual level (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Scientific evidence is insufficient for conclusions on stability after treatment of other morphological discrepancies.
  • Scientific evidence is insufficient for conclusions on patient satisfaction in the long term (at least 5 years) after the conclusion of orthodontic treatment.

* Braces that hold the mandible in a forward position via a telescoping mechanism.

Risks and Complications of Orthodontic Treatment

  • Orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances, as well as the application of separators and new arch wires, is painful in the beginning (Evidence Grade 2).
  • Orthodontic treatment can cause a reduction of the bone level between the teeth; the scope of this reduction, however, is so small that it lacks clinical relevance (Evidence Grade 2).
  • Stainless steel wires that were attached to the back of the anterior teeth of the mandible by etching (retainer) have not been found to give rise to caries in a 5-year perspective (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances that contain nickel have not been found to increase the incidence of nickel sensitivity (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Root resorptions** up to one-third of the length of the root occur in 11–28 percent of the patients who have undergone orthodontic treatment (Evidence Grade 3). Information on the long-term consequences of this is lacking.
  • Teeth with incomplete root development are resorbed to a lesser degree than fully developed teeth (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Side effects such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) have not been demonstrated in connection with orthodontic treatment (Evidence Grade 3).
  • Scientific evidence is insufficient for conclusions on what effect a suspension of treatment has on root resorptions during ongoing orthodontic treatment.

** Gradual dissolution of tooth roots.

SBU’s Review of Praxis

  • The share of orthodontic treatments that were begun per age group was on average 27 percent and varied between 21 percent and 39 percent for 20 of 21 county councils.
  • The number of specialists per 10,000 children was on average 1.12 and varied between 0.82 and 1.68.

How to cite this report: SBU. Malocclusions and orthodontic treatment in a health perspective. Stockholm: Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU); 2005. SBU report no 176 (in Swedish).

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SBU Assessment presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence. The certainty of the evidence for each finding is systematically reviewed and graded. Full assessments include economic, social, and ethical impact analyses.

SBU assessments are performed by a team of leading professional practitioners and academics, patient/user representatives and SBU staff. Prior to approval and publication, assessments are reviewed by independent experts, SBU’s Scientific Advisory Committees and Board of Directors.

Published: 10/20/2005
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Report no: 176
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