Objective: Early recognition of developing malocclusions and the potential for uncomplicated orthodontic treatment procedures can minimize or eliminate future costly treatment. This study was designed to assess the potential for this approach in children living in a limited-income environment. A modified index for preventive and interceptive orthodontic needs (IPION) was used to determine the need for such treatment in schoolchildren aged 6 and 9 years.
Methods: Two calibrated examiners examined each child independently and assessed several components of his or her occlusion, including molar relationship, crossbite, open bite, overbite and overjet. Dental variables such as presence of caries and early loss of teeth were also noted. Informed consent was obtained and all children present at school on the day of the field study were included. A total of 395 children were divided into 2 groups, aged 6 and 9 years.
Results: A high prevalence of caries in the deciduous dentition (30.4% for 6 year olds; 20.6% for 9 year olds) and early loss of primary teeth (11.9% for 6 year olds; 29.4% for 9 year olds) was observed. A large percentage of children had crossbite in the anterior or posterior segments, or both. Open bites were also a common finding. Future orthodontic problems were identified in 28% of this population by using the modified IPION. No statistically significant differences (p > 0.05) were found between sexes or age groups using the chi2 test.
Conclusions: Most of the developing malocclusions identified in this study would be amenable to interceptive orthodontics, consisting of space maintenance, crossbite correction and arch expansion.