Mouth Width and Cupid’s Bow Estimation in a Southern African Population

Tobias M. R. Houlton (Lead / Corresponding author), Nicolene Jooste, Maryna Steyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Standards for estimating mouth width and Cupid’s bow width in craniofacial approximation and superimposition are limited. Currently, the only guideline for mouth width, using direct skeletal references, is a general rule indicating a 75% inter-canine to mouth width ratio. The philtrum, which closely corresponds to the Cupid’s bow, is said to be equal to the inter-superior prominences of the maxillary central incisors. This study tested these guidelines against newly generated regression models and mean values. Cone-beam CT scans of 120 black and 39 white southern African adults were used. Comparative hard and soft tissue measurements were taken using a 3D DICOM viewer. Regression equations accounting population, sex, and approximate age variables (20–39 and 40+ years), utilizing maxillary inter-canine width to estimate mouth width and maxillary central–lateral incisor junction width to estimate Cupid’s bow width, performed statistically best. The regression models were more reliable than existing standards in validation tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-379
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date1 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • craniofacial approximation/reconstruction
  • craniofacial identification
  • craniofacial superimposition
  • forensic anthropology
  • forensic science
  • mouth width estimation
  • skeletal identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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