BARMER suspects too much orthodontics among girls

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin. BARMER complains about oversupply in dentistry. Girls in Germany may receive orthodontic treatment too frequently, writes the health insurer and refers to its new dental report published on Tuesday.

Although a total of about 70% of the examined group of more than 53,000 legally insured eight-year-olds received orthodontic treatment, about 60% of all girls, but only 50% of all boys, received adequate treatment, shows the study.

Beauty ideals, peer pressure and parental care are possible reasons why tooth and jaw misalignments are requested and treated more frequently in girls than in boys, commented BARMER head Professor Christoph Straub. Orthodontics has been part of contractual dental care for decades. However, there is still a need for more research, Straub emphasized.

Peer pressure and parental care as reasons

With regard to the use of orthodontic treatment, the authors of the report identify major differences between the federal states. In Bremen, 46 percent of children and young people received orthodontic treatment, in Bavaria it was 60 percent. The high numbers in some regions surprised researchers, said Professor Michael Walter of the Technical University of Dresden.

The report’s authors found that around 65% of girls in Bavaria were undergoing orthodontic therapy and around 63% in Baden-Württemberg. In Bremen and Lower Saxony, however, it was only around 53 and around 55 percent respectively.

Regional differences in treatments cannot be explained solely by jaw anomalies and misaligned teeth, Straub said. On the contrary, the cause could be “uncertainty” in assessing the need for treatment according to the criteria of statutory health insurance. Further investigation is also needed here.

Access to care satisfactory, but…

According to the report, access to orthodontic treatment for children and young people is “satisfactory” across the country, but not equally good in all federal states. Estimated based on sales, between 80 and 96 percent of orthodontic treatments occur in appropriate specialty practices.

According to the study, on average nationally, around 13 percent of orthodontic treatments are provided by practices without an orthodontic focus. In all East German states, this proportion is above the national average and amounts to 19 percent.

“The dental report shows that with a regionally lower density of orthodontic practices, regional disadvantages in access to care are at least partially offset by practices without this focus,” said report author Walter. In principle, greater attention should be paid to the availability of local orthodontic specialists. (man)

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