Survey Says Orthodontic Options Confuse Consumers

Dentistry Today


Consumers are confused about the options for straightening their teeth and whether or not an orthodontist is even needed to attain a beautiful, healthy smile, according to Ormco, which conducted an online survey of more than a thousand adults.

Respondents ranked a “smile” as the number one physical trait of a first impression, but only 46% felt confident about their own smiles. Also, nine out of 10 parents rank teeth straightening as their highest priority as a financial investment for their children’s long-term success, but they aren’t doing the research to make well-informed treatment decisions. 

Considering these responses, Ormco says it created the website to help educate people that not all treatments, doctors, and even smiles are created equal and to illuminate and debunk the myths around teeth-straightening options.

“Investing in an orthodontic treatment can be an amazing, life-changing experience. But most people don’t spend the time to understand their options so they can choose the best treatment for them,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, consumer and shopping expert. 

“It’s an investment designed to last a lifetime, and correcting a smile is not a one-size-fits-all process. Also, new advancements may lead to less painful and clunky treatment and better smiles. Finding the right doctor is key,” said Freeman.

“Smile results vary by doctor and the type of braces or aligners used. Many people don’t realize that not all doctors use the same treatments, and not everyone is a good candidate for all treatments. An orthodontist has extensive training and experience to help you achieve the best outcome and create a healthy, gorgeous smile,” said Freeman.

While respondents said they believe in the importance of straight teeth and a beautiful smile, 76% of adults and 65% of parents did fewer than three hours of research when making orthodontic treatment decisions for themselves and their children, and 20% of parents and 37% of adults did less than an hour of research.

“People spend more time planning a birthday party or researching hotels for a vacation than they do getting smart about a medical treatment they rank as the number one financial investment in their appearance and their child’s long-term happiness,” said Freeman.

Also, according to the survey:

  • When asked to prioritize physical issues they would fix for themselves of their children, both adults and parents ranked straightening teeth as their number one priority.
  • 70% of both parents and adults would consider an aligner sold directly by a manufacturer that did not involve any orthodontist or dentist, removing the doctor from the process of tooth and root movement.
  • 43% of parents seek orthodontic treatment for their children because they believe it will help them be more successful in life, and about 38% believe it will help prevent bullying or judgment.
  • Adults rate teeth straightening first over other self-improvements including cosmetic surgery.
  • The top five reasons adults gave for seeking orthodontic treatment include boosting confidence (59%), attractiveness (55%), health (45%), reducing judgment from others (24%), and helping with career success (20%).

Ormco further notes that orthodontic treatment has evolved beyond bulky braces, headgear, and rubber bands. Also, the company says, treatment goes beyond straightening teeth to reduce gum disease, improve function, and reduce pain, all optimizing oral health.

“I was particularly disheartened by the survey results that showed seven in 10 parents and adults would strongly consider an in-mail consumer aligner treatment that often eliminates in-person visits with the orthodontist,” said Dr. Jeff Summers.

“Orthodontists have years of specialty training after dental school and a suite of tools to treat a wide range of complex cases. Not all treatment options and results are equal, so my advice is for patients to do their homework and interview several orthodontists,” Summers said.   

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