Orthodontics offers no guarantee of long-term oral health, study finds

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Orthodontics offers no guarantee of long-term oral health, study finds


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A recent study has suggested that orthodontic treatment has no effect on dental caries incidence. (Photograph: LTim/Shutterstock)

Wed. 30. January 2019


ADELAIDE, Australia: Research carried out at the University of Adelaide has examined the relationship between previous orthodontic treatment and improved dental health benefits. Study participants who had undergone orthodontic treatment showed no difference in long‐term caries experience from those who had not, the researchers concluded.

The cohort study led by the University of Adelaide Dental School and the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health assessed data on long-term caries experience of 448 participants from Adelaide in South Australia. Using a questionnaire, the research recorded patients’ socio‐demographic characteristics, dental health behaviours and receipt of orthodontic treatment.

Dr Esma J. Doğramacı, lead author and lecturer in orthodontics at the university, stated that by the age of 30 more than one-third of the study participants had received some kind of orthodontic treatment.

“Patients often complain about their crooked teeth and want braces to make their teeth straight so they can avoid problems like decay in the future,” she said. However, while orthodontic treatment is supposed to improve oral function and aesthetic appearance, the results of the study showed no proof of improved dental health in participants who had been treated orthodontically in the past.

Additionally, there was no difference in the number of decayed teeth between those who had received orthodontic treatment and those who had not. Rather, greater caries incidence was strongly linked to brushing less than twice a day.

Based on the findings, Doğramacı concluded, “Evidence from the research clearly shows that people cannot avoid regularly brushing their teeth, good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups to prevent decay in later life.”

The estimated cost of orthodontic treatment varies from approximately A$3,000 (€1,889) to A$13,000 (€8,189), according to the severity of malalignment. According to the school, the global orthodontic market is predicted to be valued at over US$6 billion (A$8,3 billion; €5,3 billion) by 2023.

The study, titled “The influence of orthodontic treatment on dental caries: An Australian cohort study”, was published online on 17 January 2019 in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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