Dentometrics® Arch Analysis
Dentometrics® vs. Current Orthodontics
Dentometrics® introduces a new standard for diagnosing and treating the dental arch using facial and cranial anatomic landmarks.
Currently, orthodontics and dentistry define the dental arch as property of the clinical crowns, meaning it is determined by the shape into which teeth are aligned. Yet, there is no definition for a “normal” arch form. Since the late 1800’s, the accepted goal of orthodontia has been to achieve normal occlusion (the fitting together of upper and lower teeth), also known as Angle’s Class I.
By contrast, Dentometrics® defines the dental arch as property of the skull anatomy, meaning that it is integrated into the facial and cranial structures. According to this philosophy, malocclusion is not simply the result of misaligned teeth. Dentometrics® looks at the deformation of underlying structures affecting the dimensions of the arch, which displaces teeth into misalignment, impaction and malocclusion. The primary goal of treatment is not normal occlusion but normal arch structure.
Dr. Lee’s vision for Dentometrics® began at Harvard Dental School, where her combined background in neuroscience and art helped her to see the dental arch not only as “the location of teeth,” but also as an anatomic structure related to the structures around it. This relationship was the essential component of Dentometrics® Arch Analysis, or aligning teeth with respect to facial features. With her extensive neuroscience background, Dr. Lee was able to understand and explore the oral cavity from this deeper, all encompassing perspective – as part of a complex, interconnected network of facial structures controlled by oral muscles and neural innervations.
Rationale Behind Developing Dentometrics®:
Based on current theory, the dimensions of a patient’s arch are fixed. Common treatments for deformities are:
- Using the pre-treatment arch form as the basis for defining the normal arch form.
- Extracting healthy teeth to make the space needed to align teeth in a straight row.
Points of concern:
- Can a dental arch from which teeth have been extracted, or that includes stripped down teeth, actually be considered “normal” in terms of size and shape?
- What is the rationale behind using the pre-treatment arch form, which is typically deformed, as the guideline for defining a patient’s normal arch form?
- Extraction can cause permanent deformation in terms of overall facial structure and appearance.
Even the positive results of traditional methods leave us with no definition for a normal arch form. Class I occlusion is commonly accompanied by problems such as crowding, deep bite and cross bite. Straight alignment of teeth can present with a gummy smile, incisor proclination and malocclusion. Therefore, neither is acceptable as a standard for determining normal arch parameters.
Dentometrics® Answers These Questions:
- What is the natural size and shape of a dental arch that is a good fit for the human face?
- More importantly, what is the biological significance of straight teeth?
Dentometrics® offers health benefits beyond straight teeth. Crooked teeth are evaluated as a sign of anatomic displacement, which may subsequently affect the functioning of nasal and pharyngeal structures. For example, there is increasing evidence that a narrow dental arch is highly correlated with upper airway obstruction, ear tube dysfunction, sleep apnea, feeding problems and speech issues. The growth and development of the face form the dental arch in the oral cavity, so it is important to understand the correlation between the physical dimensions of the arch and the mid-facial anatomy, such as nasal and upper pharyngeal structures.
Dentometrics® offers an alternative to extractions. The arch structure is formed prior to the eruption of teeth, and Dentometrics® assumes that one form is anatomically inherent. Because the dental arch is part of the skeletal system and maintains the integrity of facial anatomy, such as mid-facial cavities, tooth extraction may cause permanent deformation in relation to overall facial structures.
Dr. Lee’s patented orthodontic appliance is inserted on the palatal surface of children and adults to shape the underlying arch structure. The Sue Lee Palate Appliance (SLPA) is different from the type with the screw in the middle (RFE). Turning the screw of an RFE opens the suture between the right and left palate, thereby breaking the seal between the palate and the nasal cavity.
By contrast, SLPA reshapes a patient’s arch form internally, by applying forces at the palatal side of the dental arch. There are no keys or screws to turn. SLPA is custom-made for each patient establishing the course of treatment before placement which creates an optimal outcome.
Dr. Lee does not simply line teeth up in a row, but customizes their alignment according to the patient’s unique physical features. Once SPLA reconfigures the arch, the teeth can move easily into the desired alignment. Using SLPA significantly reduces the need for extractions and usually reduces treatment to 6-8 months – less than half the time of a more traditional approach.