Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Review links protruding teeth to long-term oral health risks

ADELAIDE, Australia: A new systematic review has reported that children with protruding primary or early permanent teeth have an increased chance of damaging them. However, the researchers affirmed that the oral health risks linked to protruding teeth can be significantly reduced without entailing prohibitive costs.

The review, undertaken at the University of Adelaide, included 41 studies and more than 50,000 children aged under 19 years and confirmed a direct link between the degree to which a young patient’s teeth protrude and the probability of damaging them. “Traumatic dental injuries have been identified as the fifth most prevalent disease or injury globally and their subsequent management is costly,” said Dr Esma Doğramacı, lecturer in orthodontics in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide Dental School. “While the number of traumatic dental injuries have fallen over recent decades, they have significant physical, psychological and economic consequences,” she added. “Young children up to the age of 6 years with teeth that stick out more than 3 mm have over three times higher chance of trauma than children without protruding teeth. Children over 6 years with teeth that protrude more than 5 mm have over double the chance of trauma.”

According to Doğramacı, corrective orthodontic treatment of children’s teeth is not usually undertaken until all permanent teeth have erupted, usually after the age of 12 years. However, an expensive visit to an orthodontist is not essential to protect protruding teeth, she said. “A dentist can easily measure how far a child’s teeth stick out and recommend whether they should be fitted with a brace. They can apply simple braces which can reduce the prominence of protruding teeth and significantly reduce the chance of them being damaged,” explained Doğramacı.

In order to protect protruding teeth from damage, Doğramacı recommends discouraging children from sucking their thumb and suggests they wear a mouth guard. “Early identification and protection of protruding teeth through regular dental check-ups reduces the chance of early problems becoming long-term dental issues,” she commented. “If young teeth are broken or knocked out, long-term issues may occur, like the need for root canal treatment or even tooth loss, requiring a lifetime commitment for general dental treatment.”

“Also, if orthodontic treatment is carried out on teeth that have previously suffered from trauma, further complications can occur during orthodontics that could lead to the loss of those teeth,” she added. “The results of this study confirm that regular check-ups, particularly for children, are a must for good long-term dental health.”

The study, titled “The association of overjet size and traumatic dental injuries—A systematic review and meta-analysis”, was published online on 6 May 2019 in Dental Traumatology, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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