Date of Award



Department of Orthodontics

First Advisor

James Chen

First Committee Member

Heesoo Oh


Introduction: Orthodontics has clinical benefits, however, the psychosocial outcomes are not well understood. These soft benefits are often classified as aesthetic, functional, and psychosocial, however, there is limited work understanding these outcomes as reported directly from the patient. By better understanding the patient’s perspectives, we can continually refine our clinical model to be patient-centric and more appropriately manage the patient’s expectations and experiences. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional qualitative study of 20 parents of 24 children ages 8-11 years. Participants were remotely interviewed using a semi-structured chronologically based line of questioning to elucidate their perceived outcomes of early orthodontic treatment or phase one. A content thematic analysis using a framework approach was used to analyze the resulting data. Results: The thematic analysis uncovered four major themes and associated subthemes as follows (1) dental health including functional changes, aesthetic improvement, and improved cleansability; (2) opportunity cost: meaning harnessing growth for lasting change, avoidance of future orthodontic treatment, avoidance of future dental treatment, and supervision of growth; (3) social outcomes: encompassing external perception and acceptance, self-perception, parental perception, and reduced dental anxiety; and (4) behavioral changes: including the correction of bad habits, development of good oral hygiene, and an increase in responsibility of the patient. Conclusions:This study highlights the depth of psychosocial benefit perceived by patients undergoing early orthodontic treatment, with the main outcome being functional improvement, followed by an advantage to treatment at a young age, and an improvement in aesthetics. Patients did not recognize an increase in self-perception which is contrary to outcomes previously found in other age groups.