Continuing education is important for an orthodontist, for a variety of reasons. One recent CE experience for me was a great opportunity to meet one of the great minds in modern orthodontics: Dr. Larry Andrews. The course was the “The Six Elements of Orofacial Harmony.”
Orthodontists treat more than teeth (Element VI), even though most patients who come to see me are concerned with their “overbite, crowded teeth, or gaps.” We also need to evaluate (Elements I-V):
I. Arch shape and length
II. Jaw Positions
III. Jaw widths
IV. Jaw Heights
V. Chin Prominence
These Elements are routinely evaluated when I see patients, but sometimes not all 6 of these elements contribute significantly to a patient’s orthodontic plan.
I have described Dr. Andrews’ Six Keys to Occlusion many times to patients over the years when reviewing treatment results or discussing planned treatment. Over the two day course I attended earlier this month, it was enlightening to to look at orthodontic treatment records and planning through the Andrews’ prism. After attending the course I have implemented a few of his ideas. His son Will is in practice with him and shares the lecture duties and does a great job describing some of the trickier concepts relating to measuring tooth position based on a patient’s forehead. Several orthodontic residency programs – West Virginia and U Penn, for example – are implementing the concepts into the orthodontic curriculum. The residents I met were very enthusiastic in their experiences to-date. Perhaps a visit to the San Diego office to continue my studies is in order? Talk to you next month!