A new Australian study counters the belief that getting braces to fix your crooked teeth will automatically boost your self-confidence.
In fact, the findings, published in the journal Orthodontics & Craniofacial Research, show that people who had never received orthodontic treatment were significantly more optimistic than those who did have braces. And many of those who never had braces had crooked teeth.
“Those who didn’t have braces had varying levels of crooked teeth, just like those who had braces treatment — ranging from mild through to very severe,” says Dr. Esma Dogramaci from the Dental School at the University of Adelaide.
“A lot of people are convinced that if they have braces, they will feel more positive about themselves and do well, psychosocially, in later life. This study confirmed that other factors play a role in predicting psychosocial functioning as adults — braces as a youngster was not one of them.”
Rather, the researchers found that brushing at least twice a day and seeing a dentist regularly were among the factors related to better psychosocial scores.
The study followed 448 South Australian participants who were 13-years-old in 1988 and 1989. By the time the participants turned 30 years old, in 2005 and 2006, more than a third had received orthodontic treatment.
The researchers looked at four psychosocial aspects: how well people felt they coped with new or difficult situations and associated setbacks; how much they felt that could take care of their own health; the support the person believed they received from their personal network and finally their own level of optimism.
“These indicators were chosen because they are important for psychosocial functioning and are relevant to health behaviours and health outcomes; since the core research question was the impact of braces treatment on patients’ self-confidence and happiness in later life,” says Dogramaci.
“On a population level, those who have never had braces were more positive than those who had braces. While experiencing braces treatment won’t guarantee happiness later in life, brushing teeth twice a day and seeing a dentist for regular check-ups will help to keep you healthy and happy.”
Fourth year dental student Alex Furlan has never had braces fitted: “My orthodontist recommended that I have braces fitted but I’m quite happy without them. I’ve never felt the need to straighten my teeth — I can get on in life without having perfectly straight teeth,” he says.
Source: University of Adelaide