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Comparison of the position of the mandibular fossa using 3D CBCT in different skeletal frames in human caucasic skulls

INTRODUCTION: The mandibular fossa (MF) connects the mandible to the cranium through a bilateral articulation. It is suggested that the mandible and the temporal bones have a reciprocal effect on their position and movement, acting as a temporo-mandibular unit. The purpose of this study was to analyze the possible role of the mandibular fossa in the development of malocclusion by comparing its three-dimensional (3D) position in different dentoskeletal frames in caucasic European human skulls.

METHOD: Several 3D angular and linear measurements obtained from Cone Beam Computerized Tomography scanning images of 101 skulls from the Weisbach collection at the Vienna Natural History Museum were analyzed.

RESULTS: The position of MF varied in different dentoskeletal frames. The sagittal position measured from the Nasion or Sella landmark was significantly smaller in Class III compared with the other two groups. The vertical position of MF did not differ significantly amongst groups. Two effective ways of evaluating the MF sagittal position are to measure the 3D distance from MF mean landmark to the fronto-nasal suture (Nasion) or to the Sella landmark.

CONCLUSION: The MF position is suggested to be considered an important factor in the development of malocclusions. Its influence on the position of the mandible supports the idea of a temporo-mandibular unit. Analysis of the position of MF should be included in the diagnostic process.

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