A basic understanding of patients’ growth and development
is an integral and important part of every orthodontist’s
education. Such knowledge is important because the practice
of evidence-based orthodontics is predicated on the ability of the clinician to apply such information when developing
treatment objectives and evaluating post-treatment outcomes.
To date, most orthodontists have received little guidance
on how to apply the didactic information they learned in
classroom settings to individual patients. To make meaningful
pretreatment diagnostics, orthodontists must be able to adjust
for their patient’s somatic growth and maturation. Dental
maturation is particularly important for determining when a
patient’s premolars and canines might be expected to emerge.
To develop treatment objectives, orthodontists need to know
their patient’s future growth potential and be able to adjust
based on the sex, age, and growth pattern of the patient.
Expected growth changes are also important when evaluating
a patient’s post-treatment changes. In order to determine
the modification necessary to make future treatments more
effective or efficient, orthodontists must be able to separate
each patient’s treatment changes from his/her growth changes.
- Know how to make individualized adjustments to available reference data for a patient’s body size and skeletal maturation.
- Be able to estimate a patient’s dental maturation and approximate age of dental eruption.
- Be able to estimate maxillary and mandibular growth changes, and the amounts of dental eruption, that would be expected to occur during the treatment of any given patient, as well as the adjustments necessary for their sex, age, and growth patterns.
- Be able to distinguish between patients with favorable and unfavorable growth potential. Be able to estimate whether the changes that occurred in a given patient were due to treatment and/or growth.