Are People Wearing Braces Seen as Less Attractive by the Public Eye?

Orthodontics - April 30, 2014 - Vol. 28 - No. 5

You can use this article as an objective basis to advise your patients that they will not be seen as any less attractive by others as a result of wearing braces.

Article Reviewed: Impact of Metal and Ceramic Fixed Orthodontic Appliances on Judgments of Beauty and Other Face-Related Attributes. Fonseca LM, de Araújo TM, et al: Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop; 2014;145 (February): 203-206.

Background: Patients are sometimes reluctant to pursue orthodontic treatment because they feel that wearing braces will result in them being seen as less attractive. Is there a basis for this concern?

Objective: To investigate how people who wear fixed orthodontic appliances see themselves and how they are seen by others in social settings.

Participants: 60 adults (21 men, 39 women; ages 18 to 47 years) whose maxillary dentition was complete with both dental arches either aligned or having mild crowding.

Methods: 3 smile photographs were taken for each subject: one with metal braces and an 0.018" stainless steel maxillary archwire, a second with ceramic braces and a maxillary 0.018" stainless steel archwire, and a third acted as a control with no braces in place. The subjects rated each of their 3 photographs on an analog scale ranging from 0 to 10 from not beautiful at all to very beautiful. Additionally, the same 180 photographs (3 each of the 60 subjects) were rated by 15 adult raters who were lay people not currently undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Results: The subjects saw themselves as more beautiful when not wearing a fixed orthodontic appliance, followed by wearing an esthetic fixed orthodontic appliance, and finally a metal fixed orthodontic appliance. However, for the raters there was no statistically significant difference found between any of the 3 photographs.

Conclusions: Wearing an orthodontic appliance has no bearing on interpersonal esthetic judgments.

Reviewer's Comments: There is no doubt that there are people who do not pursue orthodontic treatment because they feel that wearing braces will make them look less attractive. I suspect that many orthodontists tell their patients that they understand the concern about looking less attractive wearing braces; however, people looking at them will not. Now you have a study to provide a basis for that statement, and I would suggest that you might even want to keep a copy of this article in your office.(Reviewer–John S. Casko, DDS, MS, PhD).

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