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 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 this Friday and is available to the FAZ.
A little over 700 children of the appropriate age were randomly selected and examined. Tooth misalignments are assigned to one of five levels depending on their severity. In almost 60 percent of the children, the doctors found only slight misalignments of categories 1 and 2, which either only have to be corrected for aesthetic reasons or whose medical importance is so minor that the statutory health insurance companies do not cover the costs of the treatment.
criticism of the need for treatment
In more severe cases, the insurance companies pay the treatment costs up to the end of the 17th year of life. Ten percent of the children had pronounced deformities corresponding to grade 3. Every fourth child even had severe defects that urgently needed 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 orthodontic treatment really is. In 2018, the Federal Court of Auditors found that health insurance companies spend 1.1 billion euros on orthodontic services every year.
At the same time, the examiners emphasized the "non-transparent data situation" on orthodontic care and recommended collecting the relevant data. The Federal Ministry of Health and the health insurers had "hardly 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 Insurance Dentists, the study proves that "contrary to what is claimed, there is no oversupply". Children who needed orthodontic treatment were also more likely to suffer from tooth decay than children without misaligned teeth.