Association between crowding estimation and extraction recommendations in orthodontics

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2024 Jan;165(1):64-72.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2023.07.012. Epub 2023 Sep 15.


Introduction: Little is known about how precisely orthodontists in the United States (US) assess crowding or at what range of crowding they recommend extraction. This study aimed to assess the relationship between estimated crowding in patients with a Class I relationship and extraction recommendation by orthodontists in the US. The secondary aims were to evaluate the accuracy and precision of clinician estimations and determine if clinician background traits play a role in extraction decision-making.

Methods: An electronic survey was prepared using 4 patients with a Class I relationship with anterior crowding selected from a University Orthodontics Clinic and was sent to approximately 10,400 subjects through Facebook and the American Association of Orthodontists Partners in Research program.

Results: From the 297 responses received, most clinicians recommended extraction once crowding reached 9-10 mm in either the maxilla or the mandible. The data from 2 patients suggest this decision was more strongly correlated with mandibular crowding. Clinician estimations varied widely but, on average, were precise within approximately 2 mm of objective measurements. There was a tendency to overestimate crowding, especially by Northeastern practitioners. Clinicians who reported routinely measuring crowding or who reported that they recommended extractions to >10% of their patients were 1.2-2.0 and 1.4-1.6 times more likely, respectively, to recommend extraction in the patients.

Conclusions: Crowding estimation was highly subjective and varied widely among clinicians. Most clinicians recommended extraction once maxillary or mandibular crowding approximated 9-10 mm. Some clinician demographics were correlated with the precision and accuracy of estimations and the likelihood of extraction in the patients.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Care
  • Humans
  • Malocclusion* / therapy
  • Mandible
  • Orthodontics*
  • Orthodontists
  • Tooth Extraction