Author: Daniele Gibelli
The anatomical assessment of the arrangement of facial soft tissues has important applications in different fields from orthodontics to plastic surgery. One of the issues concerns the relationship between facial soft tissue thickness and skeletal class. Literature mainly deals with adult populations, whereas very few studies have been focused on children.
This study aims at investigating the relationship between midline facial soft tissue thickness and skeletal classes in Italian pre-treatment orthodontic child patients.
Lateral cephalometric X-ray films were obtained from 220 healthy Caucasoid children (91 males and 129 females), aged between 6 and 18 years (Class I: 41 males and 70 females; Class II: 18 males and 25 females; Class III: 32 males and 34 females). All the films were digitized and 14 soft tissue thicknesses were measured on the midface; in addition, the skeletal class was assessed according to the corrected ANB angle (ANBc). Differences in facial soft tissue thickness according to sex and skeletal class were assessed through two-way ANOVA test (p<0.01).
Statistically significant differences according to sex were found for labrale superius, stomion and labrale inferius, with thicker soft tissues in males than in females (p<0.01). Only measurements at labrale superius and gnathion showed statistically significant differences according to skeletal class, with thicker soft tissues in Class III children and thinner ones in Class II children (p<0.01).
The limited number of investigations, as well as the differences in protocols, renders the comparison of results from different studies difficult, suggesting further investigations to enlighten this complex and debated anatomical issue.