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27 May 2021

Changes in nutrition during orthodontic treatment

Davide Elsido

The most important goals of orthodontic treatment are esthetic and functional improvement. In addition to esthetic correction, orthodontic treatment can enhance the quality of a patient's life by achieving better occlusion and improving chewing function and the variety of food intake. The duration of fixed orthodontic treatment may vary according to the severity of the malocclusion and the treatment applied and may last approximately 1-3 years. During orthodontic treatment, food consumption can be affected negatively because of pain and functional limitations. In addition, physiological and emotional stress during the orthodontic treatment are thought to increase the nutritional requirements of the patient. A good quality diet plays a fundamental role in maintaining good oral and overall health. Nutrition affects periodontal health, immune system, growth, and development. It is thought that orthodontic treatment can affect these processes by changing the frequency, quantity, and quality of feeding. Nutrition affects the growth and proliferation process of cells and tissue and organ development. Nutrition is considered to be an important in increasing the tissue tolerance of patients undergoing orthodontic treatment.

This study, published on the American Journal of Orthodontics, aimed to evaluate the changes in food consumption in adolescents during orthodontic treatment. Twenty-five adolescents before and during treatment were interviewed, and their food consumption frequency and 24-hour retrospective food consumption records were taken.

During orthodontic treatment, the patients are instructed to avoid sticky, gummy, and very hard foods to prevent the breakage of the appliances. Those limitations on food intake might affect the nutrition pattern of the patients. In addition, it is known that during orthodontic treatment, the teeth are sensitive to pressure, especially in the first weeks of activation, and this sensitivity can lead to functional limitations. Patients may avoid chewing hard foods and may prefer consuming soft foods. Especially in the first 3-5 days after treatment, patients might avoid fruits, raw vegetables, and other hard foods because they cannot chew properly because of the sensitivity of the teeth. These changes in nutrition result in consuming significantly less protein, calcium, fiber, and some vitamins. Soft foods are preferred while avoiding hard foods during orthodontic treatment, and this might cause decreasing protein and fiber consumption and increasing carbohydrate and fat consumption.

As results of this study, there was no significant difference between total energy, protein, and carbohydrate intake. However, total fat intake decreased in the first week of treatment and increased significantly in the treatment process. After orthodontic treatment, a significant decrease was observed in fiber intake. Vitamin E and vitamin C were also significantly reduced in the first week of treatment, but a certain increase was observed in the following weeks, although they did not return to baseline values.

Considering the importance of adequate nutrition in terms of the growth and development of adolescents, it is thought that the undesired effects of orthodontic treatment on nutrition can be minimized by the dietitian following the treatment of adolescents receiving orthodontic treatment. Furthermore, guiding the patient for the relief in the sensitivity and pain felt during orthodontic treatment may play a role in increasing the diversity of food intake.

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