The tooth about braces and smiling faces


Australian researchers have found that having braces doesn’t equate to happiness later in life, which may lead parents to question if orthodontics are worth the pain.

University of Adelaide Senior Lecturer in Orthodontics Dr Esma Dogramaci and Professor David Brennan traced 448 South Australian 13 year olds from 1988 until 2006. During that time, more than a third of the research participants received orthodontic treatment

But despite their expensive smiles, those who had braces fitted were not as happy as those who did not.

Dr Esma Dogramaci said: “ Given most orthodontic treatment could be considered an optional, cosmetic improvement exercise, people should weigh up if the cost was worth the price, just like any other cosmetic treatment.

“There are some who have much more serious problems where having orthodontic treatment is necessary,” she said.

This includes children aged from seven years and up who have teeth protruding five millimetres or more… (and) are at a significantly high risk of dental trauma, the consequences of which might be a long-term commitment to restorative dental work, or at worse, tooth loss.

“So for these children, interceptive orthodontic treatment to bring the teeth back can help prevent trauma and its consequences.”

While the motivation for orthodontic treatment was different from participant to participant, Dr Dogramaci said people should not expect braces to cause better psychological functions in adulthood.

There was a pattern of higher psychosocial scores in people who did not have orthodontic treatment meaning people who hadn’t had braces fitted were significantly more optimistic than the ones that did have braces,” she said.

Those who didn’t have braces had varying levels of crooked teeth, just like those who had braces treatment – ranging from mild through to very severe.”

The study looked at four psychosocial aspects of life:

  • How well people felt they coped with new or difficult situations and associated setbacks
  • How much they felt that could take care of their own health
  • The support the person believed they received from their personal network
  • Their own level of optimism.

These indicators were chosen because they are important for psychosocial functioning and are relevant to health behaviours and health outcomes, since the core research question was the impact of braces treatment on patients’ self-confidence and happiness in later life,” Dr Dogramaci said.




Esma J. Doğramacı David S. Brennan. The long‐term influence of orthodontic treatment on adults’ psychosocial outcomes: An Australian cohort study. Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research. 27 May 2019

Follow the link to read the abstract in full:

Photo by Azamat Zhanisov on Unsplash

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovations.


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