Introduction: In orthodontic treatment, a harmonious soft-tissue profile can be difficult to achieve; the thickness of the soft tissues can vary greatly, and changes with growth and treatment can be difficult to predict. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in the thickness and the length of the soft tissues of the nose, upper and lower lips, and chin due to growth from 6 to 16 years of age.
Methods: Cephalograms of 36 subjects (22 boys, 15 girls) with skeletal Class II malocclusions were analyzed. They participated in the Burlington Growth Study, and longitudinal records had been collected at ages 6, 9, 12, 14, and 16 years. The cephalograms were digitized and analyzed with Dentofacial Planner Plus (version 2.0; Dentofacial Software, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) software. Statistical analysis was performed with the nonparametric Friedman test, and comparisons among means were made with 1-way ANOVA software.
Results: All structures showed some growth at all stages. The nose showed the greatest increases in thickness and length in both sexes. There was sexual dimorphism at 16 years, with higher values for boys. Upper lips tended to reduce in the girls. Upper lip length showed slight increases, and base of the upper lip showed small increases for both sexes. The lower lip had moderate increases in all measurements, and its thickness showed sexual dimorphism at almost all ages. The soft tissues of the chin increased in both thickness and length, with no sexual dimorphism.