Tooth and bone development in a Danish medieval mandible with unilateral absence of the mandibular canal



A Danish anthropological collection of medieval human skeletons excavated in 1986 involves a mandible (No. 212) from an adult female born without the lower alveolar nerve and mandibular canal. It is believed that the defect has resulted in lack of tooth development on the affected side and that the mylohyoid nerve has partially compensated for this defect by development of teeth in localized areas. The defective mandibular dentition has caused a compensatory development of the alveolar process in the maxilla. The missing occlusal support has altered muscular traction on the mandible. This has caused an alteration in mandibular shape. Whether the asymmetric development of the mandible is caused by muscular dysfunction, by failure in angular growth apposition, or by a combination of these factors is discussed. The case presents valuable data in the ongoing discussion about the interaction between nerve tissue and tooth formation and about the interaction between occlusion, jaw morphology, and muscular traction. The study shows how archeological material in an interdisciplinary cooperation between archeological, embryological and orthodontic research can contribute to the clarification of current biological problems.