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Article: Volume 15 Number 2 Page 82 - April 2022

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  Orthodontic Update 58: 82-94

Orthodontics:  Lateral Cephalograms: Why Do We Take Them?

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Abstract: Orthodontic indications for lateral cephalograms are diagnosis, prescription, prediction and research. Benefits of taking these radiographs must be weighed against the risks of radiation exposure. Various cephalometric analyses have been described, and these are commonly used for diagnosis and treatment planning, but unavoidable errors of both projection and identification can complicate radiographic interpretation. The use of the cervical vertebral maturation technique for growth prediction has been contentious, but may have a useful role in aiding treatment timing. Research outcomes in orthodontics have focused heavily on cephalometrics, but this is starting to change, especially with the development of 3D analysis techniques.

Clinical relevance: The range of uses of lateral cephalograms in orthodontic practice and some of the latest research regarding the use of cephalometrics in treatment planning is described.

Author notes: Jennifer Haworth, BDS, PhD, ACL and Specialist Registrar in Orthodontics, Bristol Dental School, University of Bristol, Bristol. Miesha Virdi, BDS, Specialist Registrar in Orthodontics, Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester. Anthony J Ireland, BDS, MSc, PhD (Lon), MOrth RCS, FDS RCS, Professor of Orthodontics, Bristol Dental School, University of Bristol. Email:

Objective: To explain the indications for lateral cephalograms, describe different cephalometric analyses, evaluate cephalometric growth prediction and update the reader on modern techniques.

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