Effects of malocclusion and its treatment on the quality of life of adolescents.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION The relationship between malocclusion and quality of life (QoL) is complex and not well understood. The objective of this study was to determine whether malocclusion and its treatment influence an adolescent's general and oral health-related QoL. METHODS An observational, cross-sectional design with a longitudinal component was used. Clinical and self-reported data were collected from 293 participants aged 11 to 14. The children were recruited from orthodontic and pediatric dental clinics at the University of Washington and a community health clinic in Seattle. The participants were classified into precomprehensive orthodontic (n = 93), postinterceptive orthodontic (n = 44), and nonorthodontic comparison (n = 156) groups. Assessments of dental esthetics and occlusion were evaluated with the Index of Complexity, Outcome, and Need. Three QoL questionnaires were completed: Youth Quality of Life to assess general QoL, Children's Oral Health-Related Quality of Life to assess oral health QoL, and Treatment Expectations and Experiences to evaluate participants' expectations for changes in specific aspects of their lives. Nonparametric tests were used for all analyses. RESULTS In general, overall and oral health QoL were high in this population. The instruments were correlated so that when oral health QoL improved, so did general QoL. No differences were found in these measurements between the university and community health clinics. Nor were there differences between the 3 study groups on general QoL and oral health QoL. There was little effect of malocclusion complexity on any QoL measure. Both preorthodontic and postorthodontic participants expected improvements in their health, oral function, appearance, and social well-being after orthodontic treatment; the postinterceptive sample's posttreatment experiences were consistent with their pretreatment expectations in all domains. CONCLUSIONS Malocclusion and orthodontic treatment do not appear to affect general or oral health QoL to a measurable degree, despite subjective and objective evidence for improved appearance, oral function, health, and social well-being.

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