Are social judgements made by children in relation to orthodontic appliances?
Journal of Orthodontics, Vol. 37, No. 2, 93-99, June 2010 doi:10.1179/14653121042948
Prof. H. Rodd, Unit of Oral Health and Development, School of Dentistry, Claremont Crescent, Sheffield, S10 2TA.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Objective: There is evidence to suggest that social judgements are made on the basis of dental appearance. This study sought to determine how children view other children with fixed orthodontic appliances.
Design: Cross-sectional, self-completion questionnaire.
Subjects and methods: Year 7 (aged 11–12 years) and year 10 (aged 14–15 years) school children (the participants) were invited to look at colour photographs of one girl and one boy (the subjects) and to make a social judgement about these children. Participants were randomly allocated either pictures of the two children without fixed orthodontic appliances or pictures of the same children with fixed orthodontic appliances. Using a previously validated child-centred questionnaire, participants rated subjects using a four-point Likert scale for three negative and six positive attributes. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine whether participant year group or gender and the presence of the orthodontic appliance had a significant effect on total attribute score.
Results: Three hundred and twenty-two children completed the questionnaires, giving a response rate of 69%. There was a significant effect of year group (P = 0·003) and gender of the participant (P = 0·031) on the attribute score. There was no effect according to the presence or absence of an orthodontic appliance (P = 0·791). Female participants gave more positive ratings than their male peers.
Conclusion: This study has found that children do not make social judgements about other children purely on the basis of wearing a fixed orthodontic appliance, suggesting that they are viewed as part of a normal dental appearance in adolescence.