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Facial Animation Laboratory

Our Research

The focus of the research conducted in the Facial Animation Laboratory is on the development and use of objective measures to assess outcomes of soft tissue surgeries. For over the past 10 years, we have developed 3 dimensional approaches to assess facial and circumoral soft tissue movements applied to patients with craniofacial deformities, e.g., cleft lip/ palate.

Specifically, patients born with cleft lip/palate may undergo numerous and extensive soft tissue surgeries in an attempt to normalize the facial features. Residual scarring as a result of these surgeries limits the optimum esthetic results. Our research indicates that patients remain with significant impairments in circumoral movement and disfigurement of the region. The dynamic and static objective measures that we have developed provide surgeons with a tool to more accurately assess both the extent of the impairment and degree of disfigurement, and ultimately, tailor revision surgeries to a patient's individual needs.

                                                                                        Carroll Ann Trotman, BDS, MA, MS

NIDCR Grants:

The following links provide access to each of our current NIDCR grants in the facial animation laboratory and include information on how to enroll as a participant.

Currently enrolling subjects:

Not currently enrolling subjects:



Each of the tests described below are designed to characterize lip form and function and to measure physiological parameters such as sensation, temperature perception, muscle activity, and lip force.

Clinical Chart Audits

A retrospective clinical chart audit is being used to assess the recruiting potential of cleft lip/ palate patients receiving lip repair and lip revision surgeries.

3D Facial Animation

Facial AnimationA video-based tracking system is used to track the motion of 38 reflective markers on the face. The purpose of the project is to study possible impairment of movement in patients with cleft lip and/or palate.

Click here for more about facial animation.

Click here for sample animation comparison videos.

2D and 3D Photography and Videography

2D and 3D Photography and VideographyBoth 2D and 3D videos are taken of the subject performing certain facial animations. 2D and 3D photographs are also taken of the subject at rest and certain facial animations. The purpose is to look at the form and function of the lips and face.

Click here for more information about 3D videos.

Facial Landmark Extraction and Tracking

Using 3D photographs and videos, Nayoung Lee, PhD worked to develop computer software to automatically detect various facial features and to track these landmarks during specific facial animations.

Click here for more about Dr. Lee's research.

Nasolabial Classification

Using 3D photographs, Chihiro Tanikawa, DDS, PhD developed an objective method for classifying nasolabial form for the assessment surgical outcomes in patients with a repaired cleft lip.

Click here for more about Dr. Tanikawa's research.

Lip Force

Lip ForceThe subject bites on a yoke and is asked to press down on the force transducer with his/ her lips in a force matching paradigm. The lip force measurements will indicate how well subjects can control their lip muscles.

Click here for more about lip force testing.

Sensory Testing

Sensory TestingTwo-point discrimination tests are carried out at four sites on the subject's lips to test for impairment of sensation. Hot and cool threshold testing is also used to test for impairment in perception of temperature.

Click here for more about sensory testing.


OroSTIFFWhile the subject is at rest, the OroSTIFF device stretches the lips and cheeks to measure perioral stiffness.

Click here for more about OroSTIFF testing.