Objective: To evaluate the perception of esthetic orthodontic appliances by means of eye-tracking measurements and survey investigation.
Materials and methods: En face and close-up images with different orthodontic appliances (aligner appliance [a], aligner appliance and attachments [b], lingual appliance [c], ceramic brackets [d], no appliance [e; control]) were shown to 140 participants. Eye movement and gaze direction was recorded by eye-tracking system. For different anatomical areas and areas of the appliances, time to first fixation and total fixation time were recorded. The questions included in a visual analog scale regarding individual sentiency were answered by the participants.
Results: For all groups, the anatomical landmarks were inspected in the following order: (1) eyes, (2) mouth, (3) nose, (4) hair, and (5) ears. Only in group d, first fixation was on the mouth region (1.10 ± 1.05 seconds). All appliances except the lingual appliance (1.87 ± 1.31 seconds) resulted in a longer fixation on the mouth area (a, 2.97 ± 1.32 seconds; b, 3.35 ± 1.38 seconds; d, 3.29 ± 1.36 seconds). For close-up pictures, the fastest (0.58 seconds) and longest (3.14 seconds) fixation was found for group d, followed by group b (1.02 seconds/2.3 seconds), group a (2.57 seconds/0.83 seconds), and group c (3.28 seconds/0.05 seconds). Visual analog scale scoring of questions on visibility were consistent with eye-tracking measurements. With increasing visibility, the feeling of esthetic impairment was considered higher.
Conclusions: Lingual orthodontic appliances do not change how the face is perceived. Other esthetic orthodontic appliances may change the pattern of facial inspection and are different in subjective perception.
Keywords: Aligner; Esthetic; Eye tracking; Lingual braces; Orthodontic; Survey.