Purpose This cross-sectional study evaluated the three-dimensional craniofacial skeletal and pharyngeal airway morphology and the changes associated with skeletal maturation in Japanese female adolescents. Materials and methods The subjects were examined by cone-beam computed tomography and divided into two groups according to the stage of cervical vertebral maturation (adolescent group: 34 subjects, cervical stages 2 and 3, mean age 11.15 ± 0.86 years; and late-adolescent group: 27 subjects, cervical stages 4 and 5, mean age 14.23 ± 1.13 years). The size of the craniofacial skeleton and pharyngeal airway in each group were measured. Statistical differences between the two groups were determined using Student's t-test. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to determine the relationships between the skeletal and pharyngeal variables in each group. Results The skeletal and pharyngeal airway parameters were significantly larger in the late-adolescent group than in the adolescent group. In the adolescent group, the anteroposterior position of the maxilla and mandible was significantly positively correlated with the volume of the nasopharyngeal airway (P < 0.05). The mandibular size was significantly positively correlated with the oropharyngeal length and volume (P < 0.01). In the late-adolescent group, we did not find any correlations between skeletal size or position and the volume of the pharyngeal airway during the adolescent period. Conclusions The nature of the relationship between skeletal morphology and pharyngeal airway volume seems to change from adolescence to late adolescence.
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