Orthodontic patients should help in treatment planning

Patients should play a role in formulating orthodontic retention plans, according to a new study (Angle Orthodontist, July 2010, Vol. 80:4, pp. 656-661).

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Dental School wanted to discern patients' opinions regarding responsibility for orthodontic retention and determine whether patient attitudes toward retention are related to perceptions of treatment success.

They surveyed 428 patients who had completed fixed orthodontic treatment an average of 5.3 years previously and asked them about treatment satisfaction, perceived responsibility for retention, type of retainer prescribed, reasons for discontinuing use of retainers, and relapse experienced.

Among their findings:

  • Most individuals (88%) indicated that they themselves were responsible for maintaining the alignment and fit of their teeth.
  • Those who indicated that someone else was responsible were nearly twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their teeth.
  • There was a strong relationship between the perception of stability of tooth position and current satisfaction level.
  • Patients who had been prescribed clear retainers were significantly more likely to be very satisfied currently (50%) compared to those with Hawley (35%) or permanently bonded (36%) retainers.

"Satisfaction with orthodontic results after treatment is related to patient perceptions of responsibility for retention and perceived stability of tooth position," the authors concluded.

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