The physiological linkage between dental arch asymmetry, alveolar inclination and dental macrowear pattern

Gregorio Oxilia, E. Bartolini, S. Martini, Andrea Papini, M. Boggioni, Grant Clement Townsend, John Kaidonis, Luca Fiorenza, E. Cristiani, Ottmar Kullmer, Jacopo Moggi-Cecchi, Stefano Benazzi

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Exact symmetry and perfect balance between opposite jaw halves as well as between antagonistic teeth is not frequently observed in natural masticatory systems. Research results show that asymmetry in our body, skull and jaws is related to non-genetic environmental and individual ontogenetic factors. However, modern humans exhibit increased variability in tooth positions and asymmetry compared to non-human primates and most fossil hominins. The present work investigates the relationship between dental macrowear patterns and alveolar inclinations on a sample of complete maxillary and mandibular 3D models of dental arches from 19 young and adult Yuendumu Aboriginal individuals. The analysis was carried out on first molars (M1) from all quadrants. Virtual models were oriented identifying a standard plane for each jaw. Occlusal fingerprint analysis was used to obtain M1 macrowear patterns, and 2D cross-sectional geometric analysis of the jaws was carried out to investigate asymmetry in dental arches. Asymmetry observed in the present sample is highly variable on both arches, and it is associated with differences in the inclination of upper M1 crowns. Wear facet position on opposite teeth also reflects differences in inclination of the molars between left and right sides. Our results suggest that overall asymmetry in the masticatory apparatus of modern humans affects contact between opposing teeth to the extent of heavily conditioning the observed macrowear patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAnnual Meeting of the American-Association-of-Physical-Anthropologists 2018 - Austin, United States of America
Duration: 11 Apr 201814 Apr 2018
Conference number: 87th


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the American-Association-of-Physical-Anthropologists 2018
Abbreviated titleAAPA 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • Dental anthropology
  • Australian aboriginal and torres strait islanders
  • Tooth wear
  • Occlusion

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