Considering malocclusion as a disability

Keely Blanch, Joe Antoun*, Lee Smith, Hannah Jack, Peter Fowler, Lyndie Foster Page

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Numerous studies have indicated that a malocclusion possibly affects young people’s well-being and oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL). Dento-facial aesthetics may influence how people are judged and may elicit social consequences such as bullying and negative comments. The present study aimed to explore the impact of a malocclusion on young New Zealanders who sought subsidised treatment from the Wish for a Smile (WFAS) organisation and to determine their motivation for seeking care. Method: A qualitative thematic analysis of 151 application letters to WFAS from young people (aged 11-18 years) and their caregivers was supplemented by telephone interviews of nine successful and nine unsuccessful applicants to explore their experiences through their own words. Results: In both the letters and the interviews, young people most commonly reported psychological impacts, followed by social and emotional effects associated with their malocclusion. Physical impacts were less commonly reported. In their application letters, caregivers, although at lower frequencies, reported that the young people experienced the same impacts. One caregiver referred to the young person’s malocclusion as a temporary disability. Conclusion: For some young people, a malocclusion may lead to social consequences that are disabling. When considering funding options, it is important to note the individual experience and the impact that a malocclusion might have upon the young person’s well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
JournalAustralasian Orthodontic Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

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