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Adult orthodontic patients' views regarding dentofacial normality: A qualitative study

Lookup NU author(s): Bill Ip, Professor Justin DurhamORCiD


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Introduction: The concept of normality in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment is defined from the clinicians' point of view or derived from concepts developed from observation of "ideal" persons. In-depth appreciation of what a patient views as normal is paramount for effective shared decision making. In this study, we aimed to examine the concept of dentofacial normality in orthodontics from the patient's perspective. Methods: This was a qualitative study of adults attending for orthodontic consultations at a teaching hospital. Semistructured interviews were conducted until data saturation occurred (n = 15). The data were managed using a framework approach, and recurrent themes were identified. Results: Three main themes were identified in the interviews: the components of dentofacial normality, the impact of dentofacial abnormality, and factors influencing patients' conceptualization of dentofacial normality. The components of normal appearance are apparent in the views of potential adult orthodontic patients. These ideas are formed from personal observations in conjunction with the external influences of family, friends, and the commercial media. There was a biopsychosocial impact of dentofacial abnormality with both enacted and felt stigma playing substantial roles. Conclusions: A normal dentofacial appearance cannot be solely constructed from measureable biologic variables. Patients view normality in terms of features that are acceptable biologically, psychologically, and socially, and there is significant overlap in these domains. Clinicians should be aware that traditionally held concepts of what they believe to be normal or abnormal might not fully represent patients' beliefs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stanford ND, Ip TB, Durham J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics

Year: 2014

Volume: 145

Issue: 3

Pages: 287-295

Print publication date: 01/03/2014

ISSN (print): 0889-5406

ISSN (electronic): 1097-6752

Publisher: Mosby, Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2013.11.016


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Funder referenceFunder name
NIHR-CS-011-003Department of Health