Morphologic response to changes in neuromuscular patterns experimentally induced by altered modes of respiration

Am J Orthod. 1984 Feb;85(2):115-24. doi: 10.1016/0002-9416(84)90003-4.


The present experiment was designed to test whether specific recordable changes in the neuromuscular system could be associated with specific alterations in soft- and hard-tissue morphology in the craniofacial region. The effect of experimentally induced neuromuscular changes on the craniofacial skeleton and dentition of eight rhesus monkeys was studied. The neuromuscular changes were triggered by complete nasal airway obstruction and the need for an oral airway. Alterations were also triggered 2 years later by removal of the obstruction and the return to nasal breathing. Changes in neuromuscular recruitment patterns resulted in changed function and posture of the mandible, tongue, and upper lip. There was considerable variation among the animals. Statistically significant morphologic effects of the induced changes were documented in several of the measured variables after the 2-year experimental period. The anterior face height increased more in the experimental animals than in the control animals; the occlusal and mandibular plane angles measured to the sella-nasion line increased; and anterior crossbites and malposition of teeth occurred. During the postexperimental period some of these changes were reversed. Alterations in soft-tissue morphology were also observed during both experimental periods. There was considerable variation in morphologic response among the animals. It was concluded that the marked individual variations in skeletal morphology and dentition resulting from the procedures were due to the variation in nature and degree of neuromuscular and soft-tissue adaptations in response to the altered function. The recorded neuromuscular recruitment patterns could not be directly related to specific changes in morphology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cephalometry
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Bones / anatomy & histology*
  • Facial Muscles / physiology*
  • Female
  • Lip / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology
  • Mouth Breathing / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Tonus
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Nose / physiology
  • Tongue / physiology