It’s important to remember that while there are many potential benefits from braces, the only one that’s really certain is that orthodontic treatment will straighten your teeth.

That said, it’s still surprising that a new study claims that braces don’t help your self-confidence. We have seen many of our patients experience such a significant boost in confidence from their braces or Invisalign that we had to check out the study and evaluate its conclusions. While we aren’t prepared to say that the study is false, we can say that the study’s actual findings don’t justify the headlines. If researchers were trying to develop a study looking at the impact of orthodontics on self-confidence, they failed. Instead, they developed a study showing that brushing your teeth and seeing a dentist regularly can improve your sense of control over your health, as well as other things.

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The Study Design

For this study, researchers in Australia assembled a pool of 448 13-year-olds in 1988 and 1989 (just a year or two after Dr. Scott Rice started practicing in Orange County). They then revisited this pool in 2005 and 2006 when the subjects had turned 30. In the intervening period, about a third of subjects had gotten orthodontic treatment of some type.

Researchers then compared several aspects of what they called psychosocial aspects of the subjects’ lives:

  • How well they felt they coped with new or difficult situations
  • How much they felt they could care for their health
  • The support they received from their personal network
  • Their personal optimism

Note that none of these aspects are actually related to what we would term self-confidence in the way we talk about it with respect to orthodontic treatment. The closest is how well a person feels they can cope with new situations, but this can refer to many things, only a small number of which can be addressed with a smile. And the others have little to no relationship to the appearance of a person’s smile.

Therefore, it’s not a surprise that researchers found that these four psychosocial aspects of life weren’t affected by whether a person had braces. In general, this meant that they weren’t affected one way or the other, although researchers did report that people who didn’t get braces were more optimistic than those who did. That’s not a coincidence: you’d have to be optimistic to think that you can easily get by without improving the appearance of your smile.

What Did Make a Difference?

Despite the fact that this study wasn’t really looking at how braces affected people’s confidence, it did have some insight. The study showed that one factor that improved people’s psychosocial scores was brushing their teeth at least twice a day and seeing a dentist regularly. We can see how that fits, especially when it comes to being able to care for your own health. Brushing twice a day and seeing your dentist regularly is a great way to take charge of your health, and it’s associated with many other healthy behaviors. It’s definitely recommended.

Whether you are considering cosmetic dentistry or just looking for a regular dentist in Irvine to take care of your oral health, please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.