For my master’s thesis, I studied the impact of visible and invisible orthodontic appliances on how adults are perceived in the workplace. My inspiration for this research started when I started treating my husband (who works in the business world). He never had braces as a child or teen, and decided he was ready for treatment as an adult. As we started the process, he was very concerned about how he would be viewed by work colleagues with orthodontic appliances- thus, my research began.
For my first few blog posts, I will share the culmination of my months and months of researching and writing. Today, I decided to recap some of my findings pertaining to adult orthodontics.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 1.2 million adults received orthodontic treatment in 2012; this was an almost 40% increase from 1996! (4) Also, on average, 30% of patients seen in orthodontic offices are over 18 years old.(3) Kids and teens are no longer the only ones who can benefit from orthodontics. Some orthodontist offices are now even 100% adults.
Most adults are self-motivated to start treatment (2). They want to improve their smiles and boost their self-esteem and confidence. One research study even found an overall improvement in body image after just 6 months into treatment. (6) Many adults never had the opportunity to have braces as a teen and now are seeking treatment to perfect their smiles. Conversely, some adults might have had braces as a teen, but then lost their retainers throughout the years and had relapse. Also, adults might include an orthodontist as part of a team with their general dentist and other dental specialities to prepare for dental restorative work.
Adults are attracted to newer and more esthetic treatment modalities such as clear brackets and clear aligners such as Invisalign. Many studies have even demonstrated that the appearance of the appliance is the #1 patient concern for adults. (1) When looking at all of the treatment types, adults tend to rate clear aligners as the most attractive treatment modality followed by ceramic braces then by metal braces.(5,7)
But does this also extend to how the individual wearing the appliances is perceived?