Does psychological well-being influence oral-health-related quality of life reports in children receiving orthodontic treatment?
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INTRODUCTION: Although the associations between oral biologic variables such as malocclusion and oral-health-related quality of life (OHRQOL) have been explored, little research has been done to address the influence of psychological characteristics on perceived OHRQOL. The aim of this study was to assess OHRQOL outcomes in orthodontics while controlling for individual psychological characteristics. We postulated that children with better psychological well-being (PWB) would experience fewer negative OHRQOL impacts, regardless of their orthodontic treatment status. METHODS: One hundred eighteen children (74 treatment and 44 on the waiting list), aged 11 to 14 years, seeking treatment at the orthodontic clinics at the University of Toronto, participated in this study. The child perception questionnaire (CPQ11-14) and the PWB subscale of the child health questionnaire were administered at baseline and follow-up. Occlusal changes were assessed by using the dental aesthetic index. A waiting-list comparison group was used to account for age-related effects. RESULTS: Although the treatment subjects had significantly better OHRQOL scores at follow-up, the results were significantly modified by each subject's PWB status (P <0.01). Furthermore, multivariate analysis showed that PWB contributed significantly to the variance in CPQ11-14 scores (26%). In contrast, the amount of variance explained by the treatment status alone was relatively small (9%). CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study support the postulated mediator role of PWB when evaluating OHRQOL outcomes in children undergoing orthodontic treatment. Children with better PWB are, in general, more likely to report better OHRQOL regardless of their orthodontic treatment status. On the other hand, children with low PWB, who did not receive orthodontic treatment, experienced worse OHRQOL compared with those who received treatment. This suggests that children with low PWB can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Nonetheless, further work, with larger samples and longer follow-ups, is needed to confirm this finding and to improve our understanding of how other psychological factors relate to patients' OHRQOL.
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