Background: Face mask therapy is indicated for growing patients who suffer from maxillary retrognathia. Most previous studies used conventional cephalometric analysis to evaluate the effects of face mask treatment. Cephalometric analysis has been shown to be insufficient for complex craniofacial configurations. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in the craniofacial structure of children with maxillary retrognathism following face mask treatment by means of thin-plate spline analysis. Methods: Thirty children with skeletal Class III malocclusions who had been treated with face masks were compared with a group of 30 untreated gender-matched, age-matched, observation period-matched, and craniofacial configuration-matched subjects. Average geometries, scaled to an equivalent size, were generated by means of Procrustes analysis. Thin-plate spline analysis was then performed for localization of the shape changes. Results: Face mask treatment induced a forward displacement of the maxilla, a counterclockwise rotation of the palatal plane, a horizontal compression of the anterior border of the symphysis and the condylar region, and a downward deformation of the menton. The cranial base exhibited a counterclockwise deformation as a whole. Conclusion: We conclude that thin-plate spline analysis is a valuable supplement to conventional cephalometric analysis.
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