Guiding atypical facial growth back to normal. Part 2: Causative factors, patient assessment, and treatment planning

Int J Orthod Milwaukee. 2012 Spring;23(1):21-30.


It has been well-documented that the most common factors associated with atypical facial growth involve the airway, which when compromised, leads to mouth breathing and associated aberrant tongue function. The most common changes include downward and backward rotation of the mandible, deficient nasomaxillary complex, a vertical growth pattern, posterior displacement of the TMJ, narrow maxillary arch, dental malocclusions, and dental crowding. It is imperative that clinicians recognize, diagnose, and begin treatment as early as possible when facial growth deviates from normal. Several specific diagnostic tools, coupled with traditional diagnostic records, assist the clinician in determining the degree and direction of atypical growth. Such a clear-cut diagnostic process sets in motion the treatment plan requirements necessary to accomplish the goal of returning facial growth to normal. Diagnosis and treatment planning requires that each practitioner has a broad base of knowledge, a good power of observation, and insight into the complex subject of facial growth and development.

MeSH terms

  • Cephalometry
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Malocclusion / complications
  • Malocclusion / therapy
  • Maxillofacial Development*
  • Mouth Breathing / etiology
  • Nasal Obstruction / complications
  • Nasal Obstruction / physiopathology*
  • Orthodontic Appliances, Functional
  • Orthodontics, Interceptive* / instrumentation
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Tongue / physiopathology