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AGE AND GENDER DIFFERENCES IN GONIAL ANGLE, RAMUS HEIGHT AND BIGONIAL WIDTH IN DENTATE SUBJECTS.

Byline: RAGHDA AL-SHAMOUT, MOHAMMAD AMMOUSH, RAED ALRBATA AND AHMAD AL-HABAHBAH

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of age and gender differences (three mandibular parameters gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width) in dentate Jordanian subjects using digital panoramic radiography. A total of 209 (103 males and 106 females) dentate subjects aged 11 and 69 (mean: 33.51+-14.5) years participated in this study. The data were obtained by using an interview, clinical and radiographic examination. Gonial angles, ramus heights (on both sides) and bigonial widths were recorded using panoramic radiograph and measured digitally for each subject. The mean values were calculated and compared between male and female subjects and between different age groups using SPSS (V. 17). Level of significance was set at 0.05. The results of the study showed that males had higher values of the parameters compared to females. The differences in bigonial width and ramus height were statistically significant (p less than 0.0001).

Gonial angles and bigonial widths increased with increasing age, however, ramus height increased from 11-29 years then decreased with increasing age. The morphology of the mandible changed as a consequence of age and between genders, which can be expressed as a widening of the gonial angle, increasing of the bigonial width and shortening of the ramus.

Key words: Gonial angle, ramus height, bigonial width, digital panoramic radiography, mandible.

INTRODUCTION

The mandible is a paired bone that develops within the mandibular arch, embedding teeth and forming an articulation of the jaw with the cranium: the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).1,2

Morphological changes of the mandible are thought to be influenced by the occlusal status and age of the subject. Longitudinal studies have shown that remodeling of the mandibular bone occurs with age.3 To evaluate the morphology of the mandible, previous studies have used measurements such as gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width.4,19

The gonial angle is formed by the line tangent to the lower border of the mandible and the line tangent to the distal border of the ascending ramus and condyle.11,20 The shape of the mandibular base, especially the gonial angle, correlates with the function and shape of the muscles of mastication.21 With age, the masticatory muscles change in function and structure, seen in decreased contractile activity and lower muscle density.22 Some studies have shown a gender difference.11,23

The effect of the individual age and gender on the size of the gonial angle is controversial. Although some studies have shown a widening of the gonial angle with the increasing age11,24 many articles have reported differing results.10,23,25 Moreover, most of the studies have indicated a wider angle in female subjects23,25,26 but this finding has not been confirmed in some other studies.10,11 Ingervall and Thilander27 have shown that dentate subjects with strong masseter and anterior temporal muscles have small gonial angles.

There was no significant change with regard to bigonial width or ramus breadth across age groups for either gender.14 Ramus height, mandibular body height, and mandibular body length decreased significantly with age for both genders, whereas the mandibular angle increased significantly for both genders with increasing age.18 Males had longer ramus height than females.19

Panoramic X-ray technology is commonly accessible and is used in daily clinical routine to assess mandibular vital structures.28 A number of mandibular indices based on panoramic radiographs, and image processing and analyzing techniques have been develop to allow quantification of mandibular bone, in addition, these radiographies allow a bilateral view and are adequate to inform on vertical measurements of the mandible.29,30 This is the main reason for using them for asymmetry evaluation of the condylar and the ramus process and for measuring vertical differences between both sides.31 Due to the nonlinear variation that occurs by the different depths there is no controversy on the invalidity of the horizontal measurements. Therefore, Larheim et al.32 thinks that vertical and angular measurements can be reproduced if the patient is provided with adequate equipment for head positioning.

METHODOLOGY

This cross-sectional study was carried out at the Dental Department, Prince Rashid Hospital in Irbid, Jordan. The original sample comprised all subjects who attended restorative and orthodontic clinics at AlHussien Hospital, King Hussien Medical Center, Royal Medical Services, Amman, Jordan from July to December 2009. The study sample consisted of 209 subjects (103 men and 106 women) aged between 11 and 69 years distributed into 6 age groups of ten-year age period each.

All dentate subjects with full set of natural permanent teeth (with the exclusion of third molars), class I skeletal relationship with average vertical proportions and no transverse discrepancies, no systemic bone disease and clear panoramic radiographs with visible structure for the measurements were included in this study. Partially or completely edentulous and dentate subjects with class II or class III skeletal relationships (those with vertical and transverse discrepancies) were excluded from the study. In addition, all distorted, unclear and invisible panoramic radiographs were discarded.

The data were obtained by using an interview (including general health and self-reported diseases), as well as clinical and radiographic examination. All subjects gave verbal consent to participate in the study. The study protocol was approved by the Head of Dental Specialty in the Department of Dentistry and Ethical Committees of the Royal Medical Services. Clinical examination was carried out with the patient seated in an upright position and the head was in the natural position. It was performed by one orthodontist. Thereafter, a digital panoramic radiograph was taken using Orthopos XG Plus (Model: 5884999d3352, SN: 03024, Sirona, Siemens, Germany). The exposure parameters 64 kV and 8 mA were selected.

Panoramic radiographs were performed by one trained dental radiology technician. All digital panoramic radiographs were measured digitally using Sidexis next Generation software (Version 1.52; Sirona, Siemens, Germany), on Dell Inspiron (N 5010, China) personal computer.

Gonial angles were measured using a method described by Mattila et al.33 A line was digitally traced on the panoramic radiographs tangential to the most inferior points at the gonial angle and the lower border of the mandibular body and another line tangential to the posterior borders of the ramus and the condyle. The intersection of these two lines formed the gonial angle, which was measured on the right and left sides of the mandible. Ramus heights were measured using a method described by Saini et al.19 A line represented the ramus extended from the most superior lateral point to the most inferior lateral point on the ramus tangent. Ramus height was measured on both sides on each panoramic radiograph. Bigonial width is the distance between both Gonia (Go). Gonian is the most inferior, posterior and lateral point on the external angle of the mandible.14 It was measured horizontally from the right to left gonia. (Fig 1).

Measurements were performed by one orthodontist examiner who was trained to use the same reference points required for obtaining the measurements of the angles and linear distances on each radiograph. For each parameter, 3 readings were taken and the mean was calculated.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS

The analyses were performed using SPSS version 17 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Paired samples ttest was carried out to compare the right and left sides. Mann-Whitney U-test was used to compare the means of the gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width between male and female subjects. Independent samples 2-tailed t-test was used to compare the means of the gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width between different age groups. Level of significance was set at 0.05.

RESULTS

Age and sex distribution of subjects are shown in Table 1. The mean age of all subjects was 33.51+-14.50, although the mean age of males was higher than that of females but the differences were not statistically significant.

Table 2 shows gender differences in gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width on both sides. The mean of the gonial angle and ramus height on the right side were slightly higher than those on the left side (124.35+-3.47; 51.85+-5.67 and 124.23+-3.36; 50.49+-5.70); respectively. However, these differences were not statistically significant. In addition, males have higher values of the gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width compared to female counterparts. Gender differences in gonial angle were not significant, but statistically significant gender differences (p less than 0.0001; paired t-test), were recorded in bigonial width and ramus height. (Table 3).

TABLE 1: AGE AND SEX DISTRIBUTION OF SUBJECTS

###Males###Females Total t-test###p-

###value

###(103)###(106)###(209)###

Mean age###34.35###32.36###33.51###0.99

(SD)###(14.19)###(13.98)###(14.50)###(NS)

Age range###11-66###11-69###11-69

10-19###24###26###50

20-29###15###23###38

30-39###24###23###47

40-49###27###16###43

50-59###8###11###19

60-69###5###7###12

Total###103###106###209

Not significant

TABLE 2: GENDER DIFFERENCES IN GONIAL ANGLE, RAMUS HEIGHT AND BIGONIAL WIDTH ON RIGHT AND LEFT SIDES

###Male###Female###Mean

Ramus height###Right###54.02###49.77###51.85

###(5.87)###(4.62)###(5.67)

###Left###52.62###48.44###50.49

###(6.03)###(4.52)###(5.70)

###Mean###53.22###49.11###51.12

###(5.82)###(4.45)###(5.55)

Bigonial width###206.61###198.13###202.28

###(15.26)###(11.20)###(13.98)

Gonial angle###Right###124.38###124.31###124.35

###(3.63)###(3.21)###(3.47)

###Left###124.33###124.08###124.23

###(3.57)###(3.36)###(3.36)

###Mean###124.36###124.21###124.28

###(3.48)###(3.17)###(3.28)

TABLE 3: PAIRED T-TEST TABLE FOR RIGH-LEFT SIDE OF RAMUS HEIGHTS AND GONIAL ANGLES AND MANN-WHITNEY U-TEST FOR GENDER DIFFERENCES IN GONIAL ANGLE, RAMUS HEIGHT AND BIGONIAL WIDTH

###Mean###SD###Std Error df###t-test###P-value###Sig.

###mean###(2-tailed)

Rt-Lt side differences###

Rt-Lt Rami###0.604###0.752###0.050###208###11.603###0.405###NS

Rt-Lt Gonial angles###-0.0268###2.580###0.179###208###-0.150###0.881###NS

Gender differences###

Ramus height###5.773###5.829###0.574###102###10.051###0.000###

Bigonial width###9.015###12.648###1.246###102###7.234###0.000###

Gonial angle###-0.0218###3.920###0.386###102###-0.057###0.955###NS

NS: Not significant, p less than 0.0001

TABLE 4: MEAN VALUES OF RAMUS HEIGHT, BIGONIAL WIDTH AND GONIAL ANGLE IN RELATION TO AGE GROUPS

Age###Ramus height###Bigonial width###Gonial angle

range###Male###Female###Total###Male###Female###Total###Male###Female###Total

11-19###46.116###45.837###45.976###189.625###186.574###188.100###122.639###121.821###122.230

20-29###53.874###53123###53.499###204.975###199.645###202.310###123.243###122.837###123.040

30-39###53.571###52.972###52.272###208.060###204.121###206.091###124.453###122.633###123.543

40-49###53.209###52.858###53.034###210.521###205.614###208.465###124.328###123.659###123.994

50-59###53.124###52.816###52.970###211.125###206.869###208.695###125.361###123.719###124.540

60-69###52.560###50.761###5.661###211.316###207.172###207.149###127.817###127.258###127.537

DISCUSSION

This study was performed to assess the measurement of gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width on digital panoramic radiographs and compare between gender and different age groups in dentate subjects with Class I skeletal relationship among Jordanian population.

The mean age of all subjects was 33.51+-14.50, although the mean age of males was higher than that of females but the differences were not statistically significant. A wide age range was selected, so that the effect of aging on the different parameters can be investigated.

Several studies have reported that panoramic radiographs are reproducible and accurate for the linear and angular measurements on mandibles.20,26,35

Larheim and Svanaes36 have found that the gonial angle assessed from a panoramic film was almost identical that measured on the dried mandible.

The panoramic radiographs in the present study were made by one experienced dental radiographer using the same panoramic unit and all digital measurements were performed by one orthodontist. Although the panoramic radiographs have some limitations, like difficulties in controlling the distortion and magnification of the images, there is an important advantage of this technique is that they are often a part of the routine examination of patients, thus their use for research purpose does not involve the patient in any additional exposure or cost, and they are a very god source for the retrospective studies.26,35 Shahabi et al37 concluded that panoramic radiography can be used to determine the gonial angle as accurately as a lateral cephalogram. Furthermore, in panoramic radiography the right and left gonial angles can be measured easily without superimposition of anatomic landmarks, which occurs frequently in a lateral cephalogram.

In this study, three parameters were evaluated; ramus height, bigonial width and gonial angle. Ramus height and bigonial width represent the vertical and horizontal dimensions, respectively. However, gonial angle formed by the intersection of vertical with anteroposterior dimensions. The implication of these 3 mandibular parameters evaluate the base of cranium in 3 directions; vertical, horizontal and antero-posterior dimensions is of great importance to evaluate the morphology of the mandible and demonstrate gender differences and influence of aging process on the remodeling changes of mandibular bone. In this study, the mean values of the gonial angle and ramus height on the right side were slightly higher than those on the left side. However, these differences were not statistically significant and it might be explained by variation in the size and shape of the mandible among people. These findings were in accordance with previous studies.3,33,37-39

It has been stated that panoramic radiographs were accurate in determining the gonial angle and there was no significant difference between the right and left sides in panoramic radiography. 36 On the contrary, some researchers found that the gonial angle on the right side was significantly smaller than on the left possibly because of more use of the right side. In their study, most subjects reported that they chewed more often on the right side. Unfortunately, in this study the habit of chewing was notrecorded. 2,40 In this study, male subjects had higher values of the gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width compared to female counterparts. Gender differences in gonial angle were not significant, but statistically significant gender differences (p less than 0.0001) were recorded in bigonial width and ramus height. These results are in agreement with previous studies 11,37 who did not find any statistically significant gender differences in the gonial angle determined from the digital panoramic radiographs.

In addition, they found that the gender had little effect on the size of the gonial angle. However, other researchers have shown that statistically significant larger gonial angles in female subjects compared to the males. 2,23,25,26 These findings concerning gender differences may be explained by the fact that, on average, men have greater masticatory force than women.

Regarding the mandibular angle, studying a Chinese population, Xi and Ainamo25 found an average value of 122.4deg in the young population and 122.8deg among the elderly. The variation found may be due to the ethnic group, the different morphometric technique used, or also to specific aspects such as the biomechanics and physiology characterizing and differentiating the groups of people studied.

The present study showed that older subjects had significantly larger gonial angle and bigonial width and smaller ramus than younger ones. The findings are probably because of the generally altered mandibular basal bone morphology associated with decreased masticatory muscle functioning as a result of aging. In addition, the decrease in ramus height with age might be explained by the anterior-rotation of the mandible. These results confirmed a widening of the gonial angle and increasing bigonial width with age has also been noted in earlier studies.3,25

Thus, results in this study support a multifactorial model of structural variation in the shape and size of the mandible among people, which can be explained by the action of biomechanical forces, and by biochemical alterations of the bone tissue with age, causing the reshaping of the mandible bone-joint components and dramatically influencing the morphological characteristics. Gonial angles and bigonial widths increased with increasing age, however, ramus height increased in the second and third decayed then decreased with increasing age. This could be explained by the fact that the vertical growth continues through the life but subsides to adult level in the late 20s for males and early 20s for females.10

Statistically significant differences in ramus height were recorded between two age groups; 11-19 and 60-69 age groups and the other groups. Bigonial width significantly different between the age groups 11-19 and 20-29 and the other age groups. However, statistically significant differences in gonial angles between 60-69 age group and the other groups; and between 11-19 and 50-59 age groups were recorded. Alvaran et al41 reported that males had significantly (P less than 0.001) wider arches than females, and that older subjects had significantly wider bigonial width than younger. On the other hand, Hesby et al42 found that the differences in the transverse mandibular basal bone between gender and with increasing age, measured as bigonion were not significant.

It has been concluded that mandibular basal bone morphology changes as a consequence of aging process, which can be expressed as widening of the gonial angle and shortening of the ramus.25 The gonial angle is a representative of mandible morphology and its increase may cause the face to appear older.3,43

The findings highlight the importance of prosthetic rehabilitation of the masticatory system to maintain good functioning of the masticatory muscles. However, it has been reported that the average angle of the body and the ramus of the mandible did not change from the time one reached adulthood to at least 70 years of age, except when there was extensive tooth loss,23,44 In addition, Show et al18 reported that there was no significant change with regard to bigonial width or ramus breadth across age groups for either gender. Ramus height, mandibular body height, and mandibular body length decreased significantly with age for both genders, where as the mandibular angle increased significantly for both genders with increasing age.45

Because of a relatively small sample size and limited participation rate, the present study does not represent Jordanian population as a whole. Another disadvantage was that the dental status was based mainly on panoramic radiography. Therefore, the information of tooth to tooth contacts and chewing habits were not available.

Future research should be performed to investigate other mandibular parameters in Class II and Class III skeletal relationships and other types of malocclusion using other radiographic angulations' images such as lateral cephalometric views. In addition, the effect of tooth to tooth contacts and chewing habits should also be performed. Even though panoramic radiographs provide information on the vertical dimensions of craniofacial structures, clinicians should be vigilant when predicting skeletal cephalometric parameters from panoramic radiographs, because of their lower predictability. Also, further research to compare mandibular parameters between partially and completely edentulous subjects and the influence of tooth loss and edentulousness between genders and among different age groups may be needed before the results of this study can be applied on the general population.

CONCLUSIONS

The mean values of the gonial angle and ramus height on the right side were slightly higher than those on the left side but the differences were not statistically significant. Males have higher values of the gonial angle, ramus height and bigonial width compared to female counterparts. Gender differences in gonial angle were not significant, but statistically significant gender differences (p less than 0.0001; paired t-test) were recorded in bigonial width and ramus height. Gonial angles and bigonial widths increased with age, however, Ramus height increased in the second and third decayed then decreased with age. Statistically significant differences in ramus height were recorded between two age groups; 11-19 and 60-69 age groups and the other groups. Bigonial width significantly different between the age groups 11-19 and 20-29 and the other age groups. However, statistically significant differences in gonial angle between 60-69 age group and the other groups; and between 11-19 and 50-59 age groups were recorded.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The authors wish to thank Dr Osama Al-Jabrah for his kind assistance in performing statistical analyses and in preparation the manuscript.

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BDS, JBOrth, BDS, JBRestDent, BDS, JBOrth, BDS, JBResDent, 1 Specialist in Orthodontics, Department of Dentistry, King Hussien Medical Center, Royal Medical Services, Amman, Jordan, PO Box 1133, Postal Code 11732 Marj Al-Hamam, Amman, Jordan, Tel: 00962 6 5734313, Mobile: 00962 7 774432245, Fax: 00962 6 523 3304, E-mail:raghdashammout@hotmail.com, 2 Specialist in Restorative Dentistry, Department of Dentistry, Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussien Hospital, Royal Medical Services, Aqaba, Jordan, Tel: 00962 6 523 33 04, Mobile: 00962 77 773-53 18 and 00962 79 565 2527, E-mail: mha33@yahoo.com, 3 Specialist in Orthodontics, Department of Dentistry, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussien Hospital, Royal Medical Services, Karak, Jordan, Mobile: 00962 77 7316 871, E-mail: drraed_79@yahoo.com, 4 Specialist in Restorative Dentistry, Department of Dentistry, Al-Hussien Hospital, King Hussien Medical Center, Royal Medical Services, Amman, Jordan, Mobile: 00962 6 4924434, 00962 7 77 612939, E-mail: ahmad1975@gmail.com
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