Adolescents’ perception of malocclusion, their motivations, and expectations concerning the orthodontic treatment. Is it all about attractiveness? A qualitative study

Published:January 12, 2022DOI:


      • Attractiveness is exceptionally relevant among adolescent orthodontic patients.
      • Adolescents expect upsetting dentofacial traits to be corrected by orthodontics.
      • Esthetic self-oriented motivations are influential for adolescents seeking treatment.
      • Parents, professionals, and peers also influence adolescents’ perception.
      • Normal dentofacial status is attached to adolescents’ social and individual aspirations.


      In addition to essential clinical parameters, orthodontic treatment outcomes should also consider patients’ opinions and perceptions, which could be comprehensively clarified with a qualitative scientific approach. Considering that the information on younger patients’ views is scarce, the objective of this study was to investigate how adolescent orthodontic patients perceive malocclusion, and their motivations and expectations concerning orthodontic corrective treatment.


      In this descriptive qualitative study, 12 adolescents aged 12 to 14 years and of both genders, covering a heterogeneous collection of malocclusions, were recruited from the waiting list of an Orthodontics Graduate Course. They were individually interviewed before the appliance insertion by an experienced researcher using an interview guide and photographic records to stimulate patients’ self-perception of their oral condition. The interviews proceeded simultaneously with transcription analyses until saturation. After the transcription evaluation, the framework analysis technique was performed.


      Data derived from the transcription analyses were grouped into 3 major themes: perceptions concerning the concepts of normality and abnormality regarding oral health; self-perceptions regarding malocclusion and other discrepancies; and motivations for seeking orthodontic treatment and expectations related to the results.


      Attractiveness was exceptionally relevant among adolescent patients. Most interviewees seemed to focus their attention on esthetically upsetting dentofacial traits, which they expected to be corrected by orthodontic treatment. In addition to self-oriented appearance-driven motivations, parents, other health professionals, friends, and peers also influenced adolescents’ perception of their need for treatment. The achievement of a normal dentofacial status seems to be closely attached to social and individual aspirations.
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