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Mandibular profile and attractiveness

The mandible is the lower jaw.  This article addresses how attractiveness ratings vary as a function of the extent to which the mandible is protruding among individuals of European ancestry.

The following picture shows three types of soft tissue mandibular profiles.

Three types of soft tissue mandibular profiles.

Fig. 1. From left to right: Class II profile (regressed or retrognathic mandible), Class I profile (normal or orthognathic mandible), Class III profile (protruding or prognathic mandible)(1).

People most extensively prefer the Class I profile(1-5).  When there is minor deviation from a Class I profile, a Class III profile is preferred to a Class II profile(1, 4-7).  People are more tolerant of a retrognathic mandible in women than men and more tolerant of a prognathic mandible in men than women(5).

For technical details, refer to the following diagram and locate points S, N, A and B.  The Eastman normal values are SNA angle =  81 degrees, SNB = 78 degrees and ANB = 3 degrees.

Location of S, N, A and B points in skeletal profile.

Fig. 2. Locate S, N, A and B points.

The following graph shows how attractiveness varied as a function of SNB angle in a study(1).  SNB = 78 degrees corresponds to a Class I profile, which was rated the most attractive.  Lower SNB values lean toward a Class II profile and higher SNB values toward a Class III profile.  SNB = 68 degrees corresponds to the leftmost silhouette in Fig. 1 and SNB = 88 degrees corresponds to the rightmost silhouette in Fig. 1.  Note that a Class III profile is preferred to a Class II profile when there is a minor deviation from a Class I profile.

Attractiveness as a function of SNB angle.

Fig. 3. Attractiveness as a function of SNB angle(1).  The +5 degrees attractiveness rating is significantly greater than the -5 degrees rating; the ratings for other similar-magnitude deviations in opposite directions from 78 degrees are similar, but there is still a bias toward a Class III preference over a Class II preference for small devaitions.

In reality, the flesh can obscure actual skeletal profile.  For instance, the following radiograms (X-rays) feature professional models (male and female) with different skeletal profiles but a soft tissue profile that is aesthetically acceptable.

Dental occlusions present in some professional models.

Fig. 4. Dental occlusions present in some professional models(8).  (A) Class I, (B) Class II, (C) Class III and (D) model with proclined lower incisors (forward leaning lower front teeth).  The different skeletal classes here are also referred to as Class I, Class II and Class III malocclusions.  The occlusion of the teeth refers to how the upper and lower teeth fit together.

The studies above focus on European populations but the find about a preference for Class I profiles applies to non-European populations, too.  Class I profiles in non-whites would look like the middle image in Fig.1 with thicker lips and more protruding mouths (See Fig. 5).  On the other hand, because of the more protruding jaws in non-Europeans, it does not necessarily follow that a Class III profile would be preferred over a Class II profile for minor deviations from a Class I profile in their case.

Normal face profiles (Class I) in different ethnic groups: Northern European, Mediterranean, Chinese.

Fig. 5. Normal face profiles (Class I) in different ethnic groups: Northern European, Mediterranean, Chinese.

The following image shows the outline of Marquardt’s mask, which he claims to be the outline of the “ideal” female face.  Note that Marquardt’s mask leans toward a Class II profile, at odds with the public preference for a Class I profile.

Marquardt's Phi mask.

Fig. 6. Marquardt's Phi mask.      


  1. Johnston, C., Hunt, O., Burden, D., Stevenson, M., and Hepper, P., The influence of mandibular prominence on facial attractiveness, Eur J Orthod, 27, 129 (2005).
  2. Maple, J. R., Vig, K. W., Beck, F. M., Larsen, P. E., and Shanker, S., A comparison of providers' and consumers' perceptions of facial-profile attractiveness, Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop, 128, 690 (2005).
  3. De Smit, A., and Dermaut, L., Soft-tissue profile preference, Am J Orthod, 86, 67 (1984).
  4. Cochrane, S. M., Cunningham, S. J., and Hunt, N. P., Perceptions of facial appearance by orthodontists and the general public, J Clin Orthod, 31, 164 (1997).
  5. Orsini, M. G., Huang, G. J., Kiyak, H. A., Ramsay, D. S., Bollen, A. M., Anderson, N. K., and Giddong, D. B., Methods to evaluate profile preferences for the anteroposterior position of the mandible, Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop, 130, 283 (2006).
  6. Czarnecki, S. T., Nanda, R. S., and Currier, G. F., Perceptions of a balanced facial profile, Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop, 104, 180 (1993).
  7. Michiels, G., and Sather, A. H., Determinants of facial attractiveness in a sample of white women, Int J Adult Orthodon Orthognath Surg, 9, 95 (1994).
  8. Moss, J. P., Linney, A. D., and Lowey, M. N., The use of three-dimensional techniques in facial esthetics, Semin Orthod, 1, 94 (1995).


uh..the lips on the white person are skinnier. that's why.

8D: Thinner lips are only responsible to a small extent. The bone/teeth structure is playing a greater role.

Marquartd's mask looks most masculine to me in profile because of the jaw mainly. Of the photos of Rebecca Romijn the one in profile was mosy revealing, especialy of her deep jaw.
What do you think of Michelle Marsh?

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