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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 76-81

Quantitative and qualitative palatal rugae pattern analysis in population of Punjab

1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Hospital and Research Institute, Ludhiana, Punjab, India
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Rangoonwala Dental College, Pune, Maharashtra, India
3 Prosthodontics, Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Hospital and Research Institute, Ludhiana, Punjab, India
4 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Faculty of Dental Sciences, SGT University, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
5 Practising Dentist, Chandigarh Dental Hospital, Shahkot, Punjab, India
6 Department of Periodontics, Desh Bhagat Dental College, Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab, India

Date of Submission06-Apr-2021
Date of Decision30-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance09-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Mar-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ashima B Behl
Professor, Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Hospital and Research Institute, Ludhiana 141 010, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaomr.jiaomr_199_20

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Background: Palatal rugae are irregular, asymmetric ridges of mucous membrane extending laterally from incisive papillae and anterior part of palatal raphe. Palatal rugae patterns are unique to individuals. Aim and Objectives: The aim of the study was to identify a pattern of palatal rugae in terms of size, shape, number, and to compare rugae patterns in males and females of Punjab population. Material and Methods: A total of 420 diagnostic maxillary casts (210 men and 210 women) were randomly collected from various dental clinics and were subjected to visualization using graphite pencil and magnifying glass under adequate light. Student t test using SPSS software version 20 was utilized for statistical analysis. Results: Total of 3,465 rugae were observed. Out of the total rugae examined, primary type of rugae were found to be more followed by secondary and fragmentary/tertiary. On the basis of shape, it was found to be straight followed by wavy, curved, and circular. On the basis of modified Kapali classification, converging type of rugae were found to be more in men and diverging type were found to be more in women. The mean rugae were found to be more in women than men. Statistically significant values were observed in relation to size (secondary type), and shape (curved and circular). Conclusion: The present study was localized to the population of Punjab. Not many studies with such a large sample size have been done for this region. Palatal rugae pattern is definitely a sufficient characteristic to discriminate between genders.

Keywords: Forensic odontology, palatoscopy, rugae

How to cite this article:
Behl AB, Vinod V C, Kaur J, Vohra P, Kaur S, Bali V. Quantitative and qualitative palatal rugae pattern analysis in population of Punjab. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2022;34:76-81

How to cite this URL:
Behl AB, Vinod V C, Kaur J, Vohra P, Kaur S, Bali V. Quantitative and qualitative palatal rugae pattern analysis in population of Punjab. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 6];34:76-81. Available from: http://www.jiaomr.in/text.asp?2022/34/1/76/340738

   Introduction Top

Forensic odontology is a special branch in dentistry which plays a key role among all the methods related to medico-legal identification. Forensic odontology can be defined as a branch of dentistry which deals with the appropriate handling and examination of dental evidence, and with proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings in the interest of justice.[1] Forensic odontology can be used in cases of mass disasters where identification of a human being becomes difficult. DNA analysis is the gold standard in forensics but it is very costly and cannot be conducted for everyone. Other human remains can be considered like the temporomandibular joint, condylar and coronoid linear parameters, gonial angles and palatal rugae. Palatal rugae are different in each individual.

The uniqueness of palatal rugae as an aid of personal identification was the sole objective of this study.

Classification of rugae patterns given by various authors is illustrated in [Table 1].
Table 1: Classification of rugae patterns given by various authors

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   Material and Methods Top

The study was conducted to analyze and identify rugae patterns in terms of size, shape and number of palatal rugae on the maxillary casts, and to compare rugae patterns in men and women population of Punjab. The study was presented before an ethical board, verbal consent was given as it was only a cast-based study. The casts (with only age and gender mentioned) were randomly collected from various dental clinics of Punjab.

Study design

The sample comprised of randomly collected diagnostic maxillary casts of 420 healthy subjects from population of Punjab with equal gender distribution (210 men and 210 women) with the age group of subjects being between 20 and 50 years as rugae are well formed and preserved in this group. A midline was drawn using graphite pencil from the mid palatine raphe up to the incisive papillae to the most posterior extent of rugae on the palate (4–5 mm beyond) thereby dividing the rugae and palate into two halves. The rugae were highlighted using sharp graphite pencil and magnifying glass under adequate light on the cast. The patterns of rugae were then identified and classified according to Lysell's classification[2] and modified Kapali classification [Chart 1].[3] The declaration of Helsinki was taken into consideration, and a written informed consent was taken.

All dental casts not showing any damage and those showing all the rugae clearly were included. Dental casts of subjects with craniofacial abnormalities, trauma, any surgical defects, cystic treatment defects, those with severe malocclusion's, post-orthodontic treatment or those with absence of any anterior teeth were excluded. Also dental casts having inflamed gingival margins, those with habit of chewing betel nuts, and those with hard/soft tissue–related pathologies on the palatal region were not included.

Statistical analysis was done by t test using SPSS version 20. Based on the findings of the pilot study, 95% confidence level and 80% power of the study, sample size was calculated using G power software as 401 which was rounded off to 420 (210 men and 210 women). Approval for the study was obtained from institutional review board with vide letter no. DBDC/19/281 dated 21/5/19.

   Results and Observation Top

[Table 1] reveals the comparative assessment of various types of rugae in both genders which is statistically analyzed via t test using SPSS software. The most prevalent rugae on the basis of size (length) were primary rugae (mean value in men being 6.80, while in women being 6.79) followed by secondary rugae (mean value in men being 1.62, while in women being 2.17) and tertiary/fragmentary type (mean value in men being 1.43, while in women being 1.69). Secondary rugae were found statistically significant which was more in females than in males (P = 0.000).

Out of the 3,465 rugae found in 420 individuals, 1410 were of straight type (40.69%), which were maximum in number, followed by wave type found in 972 rugae (28.05%); diverging type was found in 465 rugae (13.41%), curved type in 426 rugae (12.29%), converging type in 162 rugae (4.67%), and circular type in 66 rugae (1.3%). In men as well as women, the mean proportion of the straight type was observed to be maximum (mean value in men being 3.57, while in women being 3.59), followed by wave type (mean value in men being 2.72 and in women 2.65), curved type (mean value in men being 1.70, while in women 2.18), circular type (mean value in men being 1.25, while in women 1.00), diverging type (mean value in men 1.75, while in women 1.62) and converging type (mean value in men being 1.18, while in women 1.33). Curve type rugae was found to be statistically significant with P = 0.000 under independent t test and found more in women than in men. Circular type rugae was significant in men with P = 0.019.

The mean rugae in women was significantly more than in men. The most prevalent forms on basis of shape in both the genders was straight type followed by wavy, curved, and circular. Among them, circular forms were significantly more in men whereas curved forms were higher in women.

Rugae were also observed based on their size (length) [Table 1]. Most prevalent size of rugae in men and women was primary, followed by secondary and tertiary/fragmentary. Out of these, secondary rugae size was significantly more in women than in men.

A total of 3,465 rugae were observed in 420 casts almost equally divided into right and left side of the median palatine raphe. In 210 women, a total of 1,797 rugae were identified with a mean value of 17.13 ± 3.98 (mean ± SD), while in 210 men, a total number of 1,668 rugae were observed with a mean value of 16.09 ± 3.22. Statistically significant difference (P = 0.005) was observed in the number of rugae in men and women [Table 2]. The average number of rugae found in each individual was 8.25 of which 4–5 were on each side of the palate. Specifically, no significant differences were found in left and right side of the palate.
Table 2: Comparative assessment of rugae pattern according to gender

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   Discussion Top

According to the glossary of prosthodontic term-8, rugae are anatomical folds or wrinkles (usually used in the plural sense), the irregular fibrous connective tissue located on the anterior third of the palate. They are also called plica palatinae or rugae palatine[4] (GPT-1). Physiologically, they play a pivotal role in oral swallowing and improve the relationship between food and taste receptors on the dorsal surface of the tongue.[2] Though the overall length of rugae changes according to normal growth process, the position of rugae remain the same throughout the individual's life.[5],[6] They can withstand thermal effects in burn victims and decomposition changes for up to seven days after death. Due to the uniqueness of the difference in the pattern for every individual, these rugae are being increasingly considered in the forensic investigations, particularly in aeronautical tragedies for identification of astronauts by making use of ante mortem data.[5]

Located in the anterior half of the roof of the mouth, palatal rugae serve as a reference landmark in various dental treatment modalities and could be used in the identification of submucosal clefts. In case of mass disasters, establishing a person's identity can be a very challenging process. Fingerprints and dental remains represent the most scientifically reliable methods of identification. Though palatal rugae pattern are difficult to describe quantitatively and qualitatively, their uniqueness to individuals has been clearly recognized as a potentially reliable source of identification.[3] The present study was an attempt to identify the patterns of palatal rugae in individuals of north Indian population and to compare rugae patterns in both genders.

In the present study, most frequent size of rugae [Graph 1] in both men and women was primary, followed by secondary and then fragmentary, out of which secondary was statistically significant and more in women with P = 0.000. This observation partly correlated to that of Shwetha et al.[7] who reported that Mysorean men and Tibetan women had more primary rugae than their respective counterparts.[7] Kapali et al. concluded in her study that Australian Aborigines had more primary rugae than the Caucasoids.[3] Similarly, the primary rugae were the most frequent type of rugae length in the adult Egyptian population.[8] Kashima et al.[9] compared the palatine rugae among Japanese and Indian children, and reported that Japanese children had more primary rugae than Indian children. This study showed findings which were contrary to the study done by Selvamani et al.[10] in which there was no statistically significant difference in the length of palatal rugae between men and women.

Our study found that straight type was predominant in both genders followed by wavy type which was seen more in women than in men. But the curved type showed statistically significant data among women with P = 0.000. These results are identical to Eboh[11] who found that the straight type was the commonest palatal rugae shape followed by wavy type among the Nigerian population. Also, previous studies on other populations found wavy type as the predominant shape in the Indian population,[12],[13] Caucasian, Aboriginal Australians,[6] and Chilean population[14] similarly, as reported by Abdellatif et al.[15] who investigated the palatine rugae pattern in the Egyptian and Saudi children. They found that the most common rugae shape in Egyptians was wavy type while the curved type was most common rugae shape in Saudi children, followed by straight rugae in both the groups. The study conducted by Nitin Gautam et al.[16] stated that straight type was predominant in men and the other studies by Paliwal et al.[17] and Kallianpur et al.[18] revealed the predominant shape was wavy. Both showed contrary results to our study.

According to the current study, statistical difference in mean of total number of rugae in women is more compared to men, and there is no difference between left and right side rugae. Our results did partially correlate with a study done among north and south Indian population of Davanagere city which stated that north Indian men had a greater number of rugae and south Indian women had more number of rugae than their counterparts.[19] Similar results were found in the study conducted by Falsal M Fahmi.[20] In contrast to our study, Dohke and Osato[21] reported that among the Japanese, the women had fewer rugae than males. A study by Babu et al.[22] found no significant difference between men and women in the length and shape of palatal rugae, but women were found to have greater number of rugae than men and, they reported that, the converging pattern was more frequent in men while diverging pattern was more frequent in women. But the results of our study correlated with Babu et al. only in terms of greater number of rugae found in women; The rest were contrary, as our study noted that curved rugae and secondary rugae more in women and diverging rugae were more men than in women.

Population differences of rugae patterns have been reported by several comparative studies. This raises the question about the role of genetic differences and environmental effects on racial differences. Previous studies reported that, environmental factors are unlikely to affect formation of rugae and rugae shape is genetically controlled.[23]

A comparative table [Table 3] shows the comparison of our study with different Indian studies. The previous studies had a small sample size whereas a larger sample size was taken in our study to reach a more valid conclusion. This is a preliminary study on localized north Indian (Punjab) population. More such studies involving a larger population can be done in future.
Table 3: Comparison of the present study with various Indian studies done after 2015

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   Conclusion Top

Within the limitations of the present study, it can be concluded that

  • The most prevalent size of rugae in both men and women was primary, followed by secondary and then tertiary/fragmentary. The secondary rugae were seen more in women.
  • The most prevalent form on basis of shape was straight followed by wavy, curved and circular. Circular type of rugae were significantly more in men whereas the curved forms were statistically significant in women.
  • The mean rugae were significantly more in women than in men.

Future prospects

Palatal rugae pattern is a sufficient characteristic to discriminate between the genders. Palatal rugae are unique to an individual and can be used successfully in identification.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


   References Top

Dayal PK. Textbook of Forensic Odontology. 1st ed. Hydrabad: Paras Medical Publishers; 1998. p. 49.  Back to cited text no. 1
Lysell L. Plicae palatinae transversae and papilla incisiva in man: A morphologic and genetic study. Acta Odont Scand 1955;13(Suppl 18):1-137.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kapali S, Townsend G, Richards L, Parish T. Palatal rugae patterns Australian aborigines and Caucasians. Aust Dent J Apr 1997;42:129-33.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ferro KJ, Morgano SM, Driscoll CF, Freilich MA, Guckes AD, Knoernschild KL, et al. Glossary of prosthodontic terms (GPT-9). J Prosthet Dent 2017;117:e1-105.  Back to cited text no. 4
Caldas IM, Magathaes T, Afonso A. Establishing identity using cheiloscopy and palatoscopy. Forensic Sci Int 2007;165:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Acharya AB, Sivapathasundharam B. Forensic odontology. In: Rajendran R. Sivapathsundharam B, editors. Shafer's Textbook of Oral Pathology. 5th ed. New Delhi: Elsevier; 2006. p. 1199-227.  Back to cited text no. 6
Swetha S. Palatal rugae pattern in varied adult indian population of males and females. J Pharm Sci Res 2015;7:736-39.  Back to cited text no. 7
Azab SM, Magdy R, El Deen MA. Patterns of palatal rugae in the adult Egyptian population. Egypt J Forensic Sci 2016;6:78-83.  Back to cited text no. 8
Kashima K. [Comparative study of the palatal rugae and shape of hard palate in Japanese and Indian children]. Aichi Gaukin Daigaku Shigakkai Shi. 1990;28 (1 Pt 2):295-320.  Back to cited text no. 9
Selvamani M, Hosallimath S, Madhushankari, Basandi PS, Yamunadevi A. Dimensional and morphological analysis of various rugae patterns in Kerala (South India) sample population: A cross-sectional study. J Nat Sci Biol Med 2015;6:306-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Eboh DEO. Palatal rugae patterns of Urhobos in Abraka, South-Southern Nigeria. Int J Morphol 2012;30:709-13.  Back to cited text no. 11
Preethi N, Ashith B, Padmini AT, Kaveri H. Differences in the palatal rugae shape in two populations of India. Arch Oral Biol 2007;52:977-82.  Back to cited text no. 12
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Hermosilla VV, San Pedro VJ, Cantin M, Suazo GIC. Palatal rugae: Systemic analysis of its shape and dimensions for use inhuman identification. Int J Morphol 2009;27:819-25.  Back to cited text no. 14
Abdellatif AM, Awad SM, Hammad SM. Comparative study of palatal rugae shape in two samples of Egyptian and Saudi children. Pediatr Dent J 2011;21:123-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Gautam N, Patil SG, Kishna RG, Agastya H, Mushtaq L, Kumar KV. Association of palatal rugae pattern in gender identification: An exploratory study. J Contemporary Dental Practice 2017;18:470-3.  Back to cited text no. 16
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Fahmi FM, Al-shamrani SM, Talic YF. Rugae pattern in a Saudi Population sample of males and females. Saudi Dent J 2001;13:92-5.  Back to cited text no. 20
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Pantalacci S, Prochazka J, Martin A, Rothova M, Lambert A, Bernard L, et al. Patterning of palatal rugae through sequential addition reveals an anterior/posterior boundary in palatal development. BMC Dev Biol 2008;8:1-40. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-8-116.  Back to cited text no. 23
Nagrale N, Ambad RS, Bankar N, Salankar H. Characteristics of patterns of palatal rugae in central Indian individuals: A cross-sectional study. Eur Mol Clin Med 2021;8:372-5.  Back to cited text no. 24
Saleem S, Arora KS, Ramachandra Reddy GV, Kaur G, Mohapatra S, Deswal AK. Study of palatal rugae pattern among population of Mewar and Hadoti Region. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2020; 32: 271-7.  Back to cited text no. 25
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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