Topographic Positions of the Wharton's Duct Orifice in Children

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2022 Dec;80(12):1996-2002. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2022.09.001. Epub 2022 Sep 9.


Purpose: Sialoendoscopic, orthodontic, and surgical interventions within the floor of the mouth require precise knowledge of the topography of the Wharton's duct orifices which is still lacking for the pediatric population. We aimed to establish a normative database for the topography of these orifices in children.

Methods: The prospective cross-sectional analytic study was performed during January to December 2021. The distances between the mandible gonions and each orifice and the lingual frenulum were defined as primary outcome variables. The secondary outcome variables were the inter-position of the orifices and their location against the base of the tongue and the mandibular alveolar ridge. The segments of the cohort were classified by sex and age groups (4 to 7, 8 to 14, 15 to 17 years old) as the primary predictor variables. The data were evaluated by a 3-way ANOVA for analysis of selected distances with the level of significance at P ≤ .05. The correlation analysis between sex and locations of the orifices was performed using χ2 criterion (95% confidence interval) and r ≥ 0.60 was counted as a strong correlation.

Results: The study involved 3,000 healthy children from 4 to 17 years of age. The orifices were symmetrical (89.3%), frenulum-independent (78.0%) openings that were usually located in the middle part of the floor of the mouth. The distance between the orifices varied from 0 mm in the frenulum-attached cases to 4.6 ± 1.8 mm for 4 to 7 years old, 7.6 ± 1.9 mm for 8 to 14 years old, and 9.1 ± 2.6 mm for 15 to 17 years old individuals. The orifices were attached to the frenulum (5.7%), were frenulum-related (16.3%), and frenulum-independent (78.0%). The sagittal asymmetry of the orifices was noted in 10.7%, and in 1.6% the lateral asymmetry was detected. No statistically significant sex-related differences were noted.

Conclusion: In the pediatric population, the Wharton's duct orifices are usually symmetrical frenulum-independent openings that are located in the middle part of the floor of the mouth. The distance between the orifices normatively varies according to sex and age. The size of the mandible does not influence the positions of the orifices. The position of the duct orifices must be established prior to submandibular sialoendoscopy, orthodontic interventions, frenotomy, and other oral surgeries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Lingual Frenum*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Salivary Ducts*
  • Submandibular Gland / surgery