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Modern human molar enamel thickness and enamel-dentine junction shape

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Don Reid


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This study examines cross-sections of molar crowns in a diverse modern human sample to quantify variation in enamel thickness and enamel-dentine junction (EDJ) shape. Histological sections were generated from molars sectioned buccolingually across mesial cusps. Enamel cap area, dentine area, EDJ length, and bi-cervical diameter were measured on micrographs using a digitizing tablet. Nine landmarks along the EDJ were defined, and X and Y coordinates were digitized in order to quantify EDJ shape. Upper molars show greater values for the components of enamel thickness, leading to significantly greater average enamel thickness than in lower molars. Average enamel thickness increased significantly from M1 to M3 in both molar rows, due to significantly increasing enamel cap area in upper molars, and decreasing dentine area in lower molars. Differences in EDJ shape were found among maxillary molars in combined and individual populations. Sex differences were also found; males showed significantly greater dentine area, EDJ length, and bi-cervical diameters in certain tooth types, which resulted in females having significantly thicker average enamel. Differences in enamel thickness and EDJ shape within molars were also found among populations, although few consistent trends were evident. This study demonstrates that enamel thickness and EDJ shape vary among molars, between sexes, and among populations; these factors must be considered in the categorization and comparison of ape and human molars, particularly when isolated teeth or fossil taxa are included. Human relative enamel thickness encompasses most values reported for fossil apes and humans, suggesting limited taxonomic value when considered alone. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith TM, Olejniczak AJ, Reid DJ, Ferrell RJ, Hublin JJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Oral Biology

Year: 2006

Volume: 51

Issue: 11

Pages: 974-995

Print publication date: 01/11/2006

ISSN (print): 0003-9969

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1506

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2006.04.012

PubMed id: 16814245


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