Developmental correlates of crown component asymmetry and occlusal discrepancy



To improve our understanding of dental asymmetry, more anatomically discriminating measurements than maximum crown dimensions were used. The relation between antimeres and opponents in permanent first molar teeth of 192 twins were studied with respect to crown component measures. Several statistical methods were used to describe asymmetry and discrepancy of occluding units to correlate with developmental stress indicators such as zygosity, birth weight, and congenital disease. To varying degrees, developmental correlates are found to be associated with asymmetry. The amount of occlusal discrepancy seems to be a direct function of bilateral asymmetry. Heterogeneity of MZ-DZ total (among plus within pair) variances occurs fairly consistently for asymmetry but not for discrepancy, implying differential environmental influences between zygosities regarding asymmetry. Genetic variance estimates, designed to be unbiased by differences in environmental variances, are significant for cusp size but not for asymmetry. Our results suggest that asymmetry at the individual cusp level may be an indicator of developmental disruption and that environmental effects, particularly prenatal, may be greater for antimeric units than for occluding units.