What motivates patients to seek orthognathic treatment?


Satisfaction with orthognathic treatment for dentofacial deformity is generally high. However, an important minority of patients are dissatisfied with the outcome, often despite technically good results.  The aims of this study were to qualitatively explore and analyse the full range of impacts of dentofacial deformity, and to understand patients’ motivations for seeking orthognathic treatment.

The authors conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with a sample of patients aged 16 years and over with a dentofacial deformity, who had not yet commenced orthognathic. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was managed by using the framework approach and analysed by using the critical qualitative theory.

Eighteen patients were interviewed (9 male, 9 female). There were two main themes the impact of the dentofacial deformity and the motivation for treatment, with related subthemes.  Both the everyday problems of living with a dentofacial deformity and the motivation for seeking treatment could be classified either as exclusively practical (including functional and structural), exclusively psychological (including psychosocial and aesthetic), or a combination. Different coping strategies were also described. The sources of motivation ranged between purely external to purely internal, with most subjects between these two extremes.

The authors concluded

 …. we present a classification of the impact of dentofacial deformity that is a refinement of the traditional one that includes aesthetic, functional, and psychosocial factors. The motivating factors, together with the triggers for accessing treatment and the source of motivation, are generally linked directly or indirectly to the problem and the impact of the condition. However, in a few patients, the motivation might not relate to the impact of the problem but to a complex array of other factors such as personality, upbringing, and relationships. Therefore, clinicians should not make assumptions but explore these factors on an individual basis without preconceived ideas.


Ryan FS, Barnard M, Cunningham SJ. Impact of dentofacial deformity and motivation for treatment: a qualitative study. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2012 Jun;141(6):734-42. PubMed PMID: 22640675.

See also the Dental Elf 8th March 2012



Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of Derek Richards

Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

More posts - Website

Follow me here –