Indication for and frequency of early orthodontic therapy or interceptive measures

Peter Schopf
Journal of Orofacial Orthopedics 2003, 64 (3): 186-200
The early treatment of nonskeletal and skeletal orthodontic anomalies in the deciduous and early mixed dentition is intended to prevent the development of pronounced anomalies in the late mixed and permanent dentition with the ultimate aim of reducing or even eliminating the need for later orthodontic treatment. There is a general consensus in the international literature that early therapy is indicated in cases of anterior and lateral crossbite and Class III malocclusion, and possibly for extreme forms of mandibular retrognathism (overjet > or =10 mm) and of open bite. However, evidence of the efficiency of early orthodontic measures is just as rare as studies providing serviceable information on the incidence of tooth malalignments and malocclusions in the deciduous and early mixed dentition, some of whose findings are in any case highly divergent. This makes it substantially more difficult to draw conclusions on the extent to which early orthodontic therapy may be indicated. In order to obtain information on the incidence of nonskeletal and skeletal orthodontic problems constituting a treatment need, 2326 first-year schoolchildren aged between 6 and 7 years were examined in Frankfurt am Main and in the Rural District of Offenbach. In only 14.7% of the children were no relevant orthodontic findings recorded. 77.2% displayed mild to severe dysgnathic symptoms, though without early orthodontic therapy being considered indicated. Treatment with orthodontic appliances was considered urgent for 187 of the children (8.04%). With 8.3% and 7.9% respectively, lateral and anterior crossbite were top of the list of anomalies with an urgent treatment need. Among the patients with lateral crossbite, the prognostically less favorable unilateral form was recorded approximately four times more often than the bilateral form. Markedly increased sagittal overjet > or =10 mm) was registered in only 1.4% of the children, and negative overjet (Class III) (with the exception of edge-to-edge bite) in 1.9%. Extreme anterior open bite > or =6 mm) was recorded in only two children (0.09%). In 19.6% of the children, a supporting zone was reduced in at least one quadrant, necessitating interceptive measures such as the insertion of a space maintainer or later orthodontic treatment (space opening or extraction therapy).

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