Using the recent development of network theory, the organizing principles of a living organism can be comprehensively analyzed by representing systems as complex networks, which are collections of nodes linked together by a particular relationship. For networks pertaining to medicine, nodes represent biological factors (biomolecules, diseases, phenotypes, etc.) and links (edges) represent their relationships (physical interactions, shared metabolic pathway, shared gene, shared trait, etc.)
We use Bayesian networks to determine and visualise the interactions among various Class III malocclusion maxillofacial features during growth and treatment. We start from a sample of 143 patients characterised through a series of a maximum of 21 different craniofacial features. We estimate a network model from these data and we test its consistency by verifying some commonly accepted hypotheses on the evolution of these disharmonies by means of Bayesian statistics. We show that untreated subjects develop different Class III craniofacial growth patterns as compared to patients submitted to orthodontic treatment with rapid maxillary expansion and facemask therapy. Among treated patients the CoA segment (the maxillary length) and the ANBangle (the antero-posterior relation of the maxilla to the mandible) seem to be the skeletal subspaces that receive the main effect of the treatment.
Bayesian Networks Analysis of Malocclusion Data M. Scutari, P. Auconi, G. Caldarelli, L. Franchi Scientific Reports 7, 15236 (2017).