Orthodontics Improve Adolescent Quality of Life

19 May 2017
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Orthodontic treatment before the age of 18 years moderately improves oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL), with the most improvement in emotional and social well-being, reports the University of Sheffield School of Clinical Dentistry. These findings are significant, according to the researchers, because there has been little evidence that orthodontic treatment improves OHRQoL until now.

“As practicing orthodontists, we are constantly being told by our patients that they are pleased they had their teeth straightened and that they are no longer embarrassed to smile or to be photographed. We wanted to find all the research that has tried to measure this effect with young people,” said Philip Benson, PhD, FDS, professor of orthodontics at the university and director of research of the British Orthodontic Society (BOS).

“We did a thorough search and found 13 studies that were relevant. Four of these studies used similar questionnaires to measure what young people thought about their teeth and how their dental appearance affects their life, before and after orthodontic treatment. We combined the data from these 4 studies to show that the improvement was measurable and moderately large in the areas of emotional and social well-being,” Benson said. 

The overall number of young people included in the research was relatively small, Benson added, so further research is needed. Hanieh Javidi, BDS, one of the study’s co-authors and who has just received the 2017 joint Faculty of Dental Surgery Royal College of Surgeons BOS Research Fellowship, will investigate OHRQoL in youth age 18 years and younger for her PhD research project.

Meanwhile, the British Orthodontic Society has launched “The BOS Guide: Better Teeth for Life,” an online resource that highlights the positive impact that orthodontic treatment can have on oral health and emotional well-being. It also provides patients with practical tips for achieving excellent results, all supported by the university’s study of orthodontics and OHRQoL in adolescents.

“The new BOS Guide demonstrates how life-enhancing orthodontic treatment can be,” said BOS president Alison Murray, BDS, MSc. “We know that patients in braces are encouraged to keep their mouths really clean, and there is evidence that once treatment has been completed, patients continue to look after their teeth. Orthodontics should be the start of a lifetime of excellent dental health.”

The study, “Does Orthodontic Treatment Before the Age of 18 Years Improve Oral Health-Related Quality of Life? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was published by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

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