The impact of orthodontic appliances on eating - young people's views and experiences

J Orthod. 2015 Jun;42(2):114-22. doi: 10.1179/1465313314Y.0000000128.


Objectives: Orthodontic appliances are known to cause patients difficulty with eating. Learning more about the issues patients face, while eating with orthodontic appliances in place, will allow us to create more informative and relevant patient information, thereby improving patient compliance and treatment success. This study aims to understand how orthodontic appliances impact on eating in the broader context and to explore adolescent patients' perceptions of eating with orthodontic appliances.

Methods: Purposive sampling was used and 19 participants currently undergoing orthodontic treatment and aged 11-14 years were selected for either a focus group or semi-structured interview to explore eating-related issues. Data collection and analysis were carried out as an iterative process broadly following principles of thematic analysis. Data collection ceased when no new themes emerged.

Results: Two main themes relating to eating problems emerged: restriction of food choice and problems associated with the eating process. Participants reported restricting food choice due to physical aspects of the appliance, advice given by their orthodontist, fear of breakage and also to minimize embarrassment. Participants also reported problems with the time taken to eat, chewing problems, taste change and being messy while eating. Additionally, time in treatment, the location of eating and relationship with those present during eating influenced emotions. Some participants indicated a positive impact of orthodontic appliances on their diet.

Conclusions: These results can be used to further inform dietary advice offered to patients. Factors were identified which may not be considered in clinical practice but which could improve the value of dietary advice given to patients.

Keywords: Adolescence,; diet,; eating behaviour,; food,; orthodontic appliances.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mastication / physiology
  • Orthodontic Appliances* / classification
  • Orthodontic Appliances, Functional
  • Orthodontic Appliances, Removable
  • Orthodontic Brackets
  • Orthodontic Retainers
  • Qualitative Research
  • Taste / physiology
  • Time Factors