Can facial type be used to predict changes in hyoid bone position with age? A perspective based on longitudinal data

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2008 Dec;134(6):792-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2006.10.039.


Introduction: Low positioning of the hyoid bone is associated with the unique human ability of speech, but it might also predispose the airway to collapse. The low position of the hyoid bone has been studied in adults with sleep apnea. However, information on age-related changes in hyoid bone position in the general adult population is sparse.

Methods: We used pairs of lateral cephalometric radiographs taken 15 years apart to assess vertical changes over time in hyoid position in 163 normal white men (ages, 30-72 years).

Results and conclusions: Significant changes in hyoid bone position were independent of age or obesity but were related to facial type, as classified by the steepness of the lower margin of the mandible. Changes in hyoid position over time were significant in dolichofacial subjects but not in brachyfacial subjects. This finding might be particularly important because a low hyoid bone with a brachial face appears to be a morphologic characteristic of nonobese patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cephalometry / methods
  • Chin / anatomy & histology
  • Epiglottis / anatomy & histology
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyoid Bone / anatomy & histology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Oropharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Pharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Sella Turcica / anatomy & histology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / pathology
  • Tongue / anatomy & histology