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Exploring young people’s perspectives of fixed orthodontic treatment

Exploring young people’s perspectives of fixed orthodontic treatment
Sarah Joanna Longstaff


School of Clinical Dentistry, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TN, UNITED KINGDOM.


This thesis describes a qualitative study which explored young people’s perspectives of having a brace throughout their fixed orthodontic treatment. Fifteen young people were recruited from the Orthodontic Department at Charles Clifford Dental Hospital and a specialist orthodontic practice in Sheffield.

Qualitative in-depth interviews were carried out with each of the young people before they had their brace fitted, throughout their orthodontic treatment, and after they had had their brace removed. In addition to collecting data using in-depth interviews, participants had the option to use a video camera to record video diaries. This was to enable the young people to describe their experiences of having a brace at times that were relevant to them. The interview data and video data were analysed together using thematic analysis, case study analysis and narrative analysis.

The findings of this study contribute to the existing knowledge base by providing an understanding of the temporal experiences of having a brace. Some of the young people regarded having a brace as a rite of passage through adolescence. In addition, having the brace removed, together with the educational transition was a symbolic event in their youth transition. The appearance of the teeth was the primary motivating factor for the young people undergoing orthodontic treatment, and it carried more significance than simply improving the appearance; it reflected their identity. Opinions about appearance were influenced by gender, peers, and images seen in the media. The sensation of the brace changed during treatment. All young people became used to the brace, although some built a bond with the appliance. Some young people shared their experience of having a brace with people around them and the relationships they were embedded in, influenced how they experienced treatment.