Orthodontic treatment planning is an interactive process in which the patient or parent and the orthodontist serve as co-decision makers. As in most partnerships, there is a natural tension between the orthodontist and the patient because of differences in their frames of reference. The orthodontist generally is influenced more by the objective findings (the problem list), whereas patients are guided more by subjective issues related to their perceived needs, desires, and values. The art of careful probing and listening to the patient as part of the treatment planning process is an essential skill. One of the most difficult situations in contemporary orthodontics is presented by the patient with a jaw discrepancy for which the alternative treatments are orthodontic camouflage through dental compensation or surgical-orthodontic correction. Computer imaging to simulate the probable treatment outcomes can facilitate communication about these alternatives by eliminating misconceptions. Full disclosure and the consideration of all viable treatment alternatives have great benefits from a risk management standpoint, in addition to their bioethical merits.

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