Case Study: The Art & Science of Orthodontics

As I begin this article, I would like to encourage those of us who practice orthodontics or who are early in their orthodontic experience or are considering starting their first case to consider this: My father, also a general dentist, has always said, “Dentistry is an art and a science.” I have never been able to disagree with him on that point, and would readily apply the same statement to the practice of orthodontics. Take the tremendous number of cephalometric analysis we have available to “measure” each case, all named after their creators who choose the “most valuable” parameters to analyze, in their opinion. Or, consider the variety of bracket prescriptions one may utilize to enhance each individual case. Then consider the many fixed and removable appliances that are available for correction of dental crowding or spacing and modification of abnormal growth and development, and the “art” of orthodontics becomes more apparent. In fact, I think it is accurate to say that the science of biomechanics is testing the many orthodontic methods developed through history and will prove to enhance the art of helping a child develop the most beautiful face and smile that they can, which in my opinion is one of the greatest gifts that can be given to another person.

Let’s take a look at this case and see how the art and science of orthodontics weaves together. The female patient came with her mother for consultation regarding her mother’s concern with her dental crowding. (Figs. 1 & 8) At the time of her orthodontic records, she was 9 years, 6 months old with an unremarkable medical history and no contraindication to dental or orthodontic treatment. (Fig. 2) I was fairly early in my orthodontic experience but thanks to AOS mentors and instructors Dr. David Jackson and Dr. Leonard Carapezza, I was able to care for the patient with confidence and success! These two instructors formed my foundation of orthodontic understanding and both spurred me on in the practice of orthodontic treatment.

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Jeffrey Dahm

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