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Three-dimensional assessment of facial asymmetry among pre-pubertal class III subjects: a controlled study

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Facial asymmetry is very common in adult class III patients; however, the degree of facial asymmetry in growing class III subjects has been poorly investigated. Therefore, the aim was to assess the degree of facial asymmetry of growing class III subjects and to compare it with a sample of growing subjects without malocclusion, recorded using a three-dimensional laser scanning method and classified according to the dentition phase. SUBJECTS/METHODS: A group of 156 Caucasian subjects, 52 with class III malocclusion (28 females and 24 males) and 104 without malocclusion (control, 51 females and 53 males), with an overall mean age 6.7±1.4 years (range 4.3-10.3 years), were included. The subjects were further subdivided according to the presence of either primary or early/intermediate mixed dentitions. Facial asymmetry was assessed on three-dimensional surface facial images obtained using a laser scanning device in terms of mirrored face distances and percentages of asymmetry. Multivariate analyses were used to assess the differences among class III and control groups. RESULTS: Complete facial symmetry was not seen in any subject. No significant differences of facial asymmetry were observed between the class III and control groups, neither in the primary nor in the early/intermediate mixed dentition phases. LIMITATIONS: No conclusions about longitudinal changes in the degree of facial asymmetry among class III subjects could be drawn from the present cross-sectional study. CONCLUSIONS: Based on three-dimensional facial asymmetry analysis, class III subjects do not show clinically relevant facial asymmetry, at least during the pre-pubertal growth period.