Journal Article

Perception of orthodontic treatment need in children and adolescents

Stjepan Spalj, Martina Slaj, Suzana Varga, Mihovil Strujic and Mladen Slaj

in The European Journal of Orthodontics

Published on behalf of European Orthodontics Society

Volume 32, issue 4, pages 387-394
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0141-5387
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2210 | DOI:
Perception of orthodontic treatment need in children and adolescents

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Patients’ and parents’ perception of malocclusion are important in determining orthodontic treatment demand, motivation, and cooperation. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in perception of treatment need in currently orthodontically treated, previously treated, and untreated subjects.

The sample comprised 3196 children and adolescents (1593 males and 1603 females) aged 8–19 years (mean age 13.0 ± 3.6 years) from 24 randomly selected public schools in Zagreb, Croatia. Objective treatment need was assessed clinically using the Dental Aesthetic Index (DAI). Subjective treatment need was estimated separately by an orthodontic resident, the child/adolescent and his/her parent using the Standardized Continuum of Aesthetic Need (SCAN) procedure. The children/adolescents completed a questionnaire that had five questions with five-point Likert-type scale answers concerning satisfaction with dental appearance, importance of teeth for facial appearance, and malocclusion-related quality of life. Spearman correlation and logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.

Associations between objective and subjective orthodontic treatment need were weak but statistically significant (Rho from 0.20 to 0.50; P < 0.05). Malocclusion-related quality of life was poorly associated with treatment need. Satisfaction with tooth appearance showed the most frequent statistically significant correlation (Rho from −0.14 to −0.35; P < 0.05), while importance of aligned teeth for facial appearance and social contacts had the weakest correlation with treatment need. Perception of treatment need was greater in previously treated subjects. Parents’ perception had a low predictive value.

The findings of this study show that malocclusion has more impact on emotional well-being than on function or social contacts.

Journal Article.  3637 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Restorative Dentistry and Orthodontics

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