Earound 40 percent of eight- and nine-year-old children in Germany should be treated by an orthodontist. This is the result of a new study carried out by the Institute of German Dentists, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists, the German Dental Association and the German Society for Orthodontics. It will be presented in Berlin on Friday and is available for FAZ.
Just over 700 children of the appropriate age were randomly selected and studied. Tooth displacements are assigned one of five levels depending on their severity. In almost 60 percent of the children, the doctors found only minor malpositions of category 1 and 2, which either only need to be corrected for aesthetic reasons, or whose medical significance is so small that the statutory health insurance companies do not cover the costs of treatment.
criticism of the need for treatment
In more serious cases, the insurance companies pay the treatment costs until the end of the 17th year of life. Ten percent of the children had pronounced deformities corresponding to grade 3. One in four children even had severe defects that required urgent treatment (grade 4). Five percent of the children had extreme deformities (grade 5).
In the past, there has always been criticism that it is unclear how great the need for orthodontics actually is. In 2018, the Federal Court of Audit found that health insurance companies spend 1.1 billion euros on orthodontic services each year.
The censors also emphasized the “opaque data situation” on orthodontics and recommended collecting the relevant data. The federal Department of Health and the health insurers had “barely any insight into the specific supply process,” it said at the time.
For Wolfgang Eßer, the chairman of the board of the National Association of Statutory Health Dentists, the study proves that “contrary to what is claimed, there is no oversupply”. Children who needed orthodontics were also more likely to suffer from cavities than children without crooked teeth.