The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association of tongue posture with the dentoalveolar maxillary and mandibular morphology in a group of Class III subjects in comparison to a group of Class I subjects. Twenty Class III subjects (9 males, 11 females, 19.2 ± 4.6 years) and 20 Class I subjects (6 males, 14 females, 17.4 ± 1.7 years) were included in the present study. Maxillary and mandibular morphology was defined by the intermolar and intercanine distances, at both the cusps and gingival levels, and by measuring surface area and volume of the palatal vault and mouth floor assessed on three-dimensional digital models. Tongue-to-palate distances were measured on lateral cephalograms. The groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U-test and correlations between each morphological parameter and the tongue-to-palate distances were calculated using the Spearman correlation coefficient. The mandibular intermolar width at the gingival level was significantly greater in the Class III group (P < 0.01), while the maxillary intercanine widths were significantly smaller in the Class III group (P < 0.05). The mouth floor area and volume and the respective ratios between the mouth floor and palate were significantly greater in the Class III group (P = 0.01). The tongue-to-palate distances were generally greater, i.e. lower tongue posture, for the Class III subjects. Significant correlations were seen between tongue-to-palate distances in the posterior region with the area ratio (rho = 0.44, P < 0.05). Tongue posture is significantly lower in Class III subjects and is associated with the dentoalveolar characteristics of the maxilla and mandible.
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