Award Date

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Medicine

First Committee Member

James Mah

Second Committee Member

Dina Zemke

Third Committee Member

Cliff Seran

Fourth Committee Member

Christina Demopoulos

Fifth Committee Member

Rhonda Everett

Number of Pages



This study evaluated how parents of prospective orthodontic patients choose between taking their child to a general dentist or an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment. It also looked at which factors influence patients’ satisfaction with the progress of treatment and likelihood to refer other patients to the practice. This study included two phases. The first phase was a qualitative assessment of the decision making process through conducting and analyzing focus groups. The second phase was the development and administration of a nationwide online survey regarding the topics covered in the focus groups. Influential factors in the decision making process fell into 6 major themes: providers’ personal characteristics, office management, referrals, location/physical environment of the office, financial considerations, and training/experience of the provider. The focus groups suggest that parents almost always prefer orthodontists over general dentists for orthodontic treatment, however if there was a substantial price difference parents would consider a general dentist. Approximately 19% of the respondents were currently in treatment with a general dentist. Factors involving communication of the provider were considered most important followed by financial considerations and office management issues. Social media had relatively little influence on the decision compared to a referral from a friend or family member. Analysis of variants showed significant differences within the major themes between males and females, household income levels, insurance status, and treatment from a general dentist or orthodontist. Satisfaction with treatment was higher with orthodontists. While factors involving communication of the provider were most important for selecting a provider, the provider developing a relationship with the parent and patient were more influential in satisfaction with the progress of treatment.


choice; decision; decision-making; marketing; orthodontist


Dentistry | Marketing | Social and Behavioral Sciences

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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