Dental discovery to benefit forensic practitioners and anthropologists

Dental discovery to benefit forensic practitioners and anthropologists

Forensic practitioners and anthropologists will be among those to benefit from new University of Kent research on the dental development of humans.

The research, which was conducted by Dr. Patrick Mahoney at the University's School of Anthropology and Conservation and published in the , has established links between and enamel growth in human infants, concluding that milk teeth do not develop in the same way as adult permanent teeth. Such a discovery not only opens up a new way of assessing the dental development of humans through fossils but will also assist in age-at-death determinations in forensic situations.

For the study, Dr. Mahoney reconstructed incremental enamel development in a sample of modern human deciduous maxillary and mandibular anterior teeth and compared them to his previous research on . Until this analysis was undertaken, relatively little was known about the microscopic growth of human milk teeth along the tooth row. Partly because of this, a comparative framework for understanding the development of milk teeth in was missing.

Dr. Mahoney expected the microscopic growth to be somehow linked into the sequence that teeth erupt through the gums. However, through his reconstruction, he was surprised to find that the development actually changed along the tooth row. He found that the early erupting front incisors grew rapidly and mainly before birth; the later erupting molar teeth at the back of the mouth formed more slowly, and mainly after birth.

He said: "Teeth retain a growth record. This can be accessed through the in tooth enamel. By examining permanent adult teeth in this way, it has provided us with key insights into the evolution of dental development, as well as aspects of life history in our fossil ancestors.

"Now that we know that teeth do not develop in the same way as adult permanent teeth, we can start the discovery process again, through comparative analyses with other primates and our fossil ancestors."

Dr. Mahoney is Lecturer in Biological Anthropology at the University of Kent and Director of Kent Osteological Research and Analysis (KORA), an established unit in the School of Anthropology and Conservation offering osteological analyses of human skeletal remains. His research interests include dental anthropology, reconstructing dental development and ancient human diet.

'Incremental Enamel Development in Modern Human Deciduous Anterior Teeth' (Patrick Mahoney, University of Kent) is available at… )1096-8644/earlyview

Related Stories

Stem cells grow fully functional new teeth

date Jul 13, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from Japan recently published a paper in PLoS One describing their successful growth and transplantation of new teeth created from the stem cells of mice.

Genetic discovery could lead to advances in dental treatment

date Feb 23, 2009

Researchers have identified the gene that ultimately controls the production of tooth enamel, a significant advance that could some day lead to the repair of damaged enamel, a new concept in cavity prevention, and restoration ...

Teeth: a future renewable natural resource?

date Nov 21, 2006

Most vertebrates have continuous tooth generation, meaning that lost teeth are replaced with new teeth. Mammals, however, including humans, have teeth that are generally only replaced once, when milk teeth are replaced with ...

Researchers Crack the Mystery of Resilient Teeth

date Apr 17, 2009

( -- After years of biting and chewing, how are human teeth able to remain intact and functional? A team of researchers from The George Washington University and other international scholars have ...

Recommended for you

Missing teeth predict cardiovascular events

date Jun 05, 2015

Advanced tooth loss often indicates that a person has a history of inflammatory oral diseases. In an extensive cohort study, it was shown that tooth loss associate with future cardiovascular events, diabetes ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.