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Patients, orthodontists judge braces differently

Patients and orthodontists don't share the same sentiment when it comes to their favorite types of orthodontic braces.

That's what Dr. Henry Fields, professor of orthodontics at Ohio State University, believes. Dr. Fields conducted a study on the public's attitude about the attractiveness of various styles of braces.

The survey found that dental appliances with no visible metal were considered the most attractive. Braces that combine clear ceramic brackets with thin metal or clear wires were less desirable, and braces with metal brackets and metal wires were rated as the least aesthetic combination.

"The paradox is that the more aesthetic these dental appliances are, the more difficult they are to manage for the orthodontist," said Dr. Fields. "But those are what people like the most."

The findings were published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. No previous studies had been published evaluating the esthetics of orthodontic appliances.

"The general trends of appliance attractiveness are universal," Dr. Fields said. "The stainless steel that we like to use, which is the most durable and efficient, is often ranked the lowest in attractiveness. These braces don't wear out and you can get total control with them.

"The most aesthetic ones, the trays, have limitations on the types of movements you can make and forces you can deliver, and the efficiency. And the ceramics sometimes have breakage problems, and they tend to just be a little bit more delicate."

Dr. Fields estimated that adults make up about one in four patients fitted with braces.

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