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Keywords:

  • age-at-death;
  • cusp formation times;
  • daily enamel secretion rates;
  • developmental biology

Abstract

This study reconstructs incremental enamel development for a sample of modern human deciduous mandibular (n = 42) and maxillary (n = 42) anterior (incisors and canines) teeth. Results are compared between anterior teeth, and with previous research for deciduous molars (Mahoney: Am J Phys Anthropol 144 (2011) 204–214) to identify developmental differences along the tooth row. Two hypotheses are tested: Retzius line periodicity will remain constant in teeth from the same jaw and range from 6 to 12 days among individuals, as in human permanent teeth; daily enamel secretion rates (DSRs) will not vary between deciduous teeth, as in some human permanent tooth types. A further aim is to search for links between deciduous incremental enamel development and the previously reported eruptionsequence. Retzius line periodicity in anterior teeth ranged between 5 and 6 days, but did not differ between an incisor and molar of one individual. Intradian line periodicity was 12 h. Mean cuspal DSRs varied slightly between equivalent regions along the tooth row. Mandibular incisors initiated enamel formation first, had the fastest mean DSRs, the greatest prenatal formation time, and based upon prior studies are the first deciduous tooth to erupt. Relatively rapid development in mandibular incisors in advance of early eruption may explain some of the variation in DSRs along the tooth row that cannot be explained by birth. Links between DSRs, enamel initiation times, and the deciduous eruption sequence are proposed. Anterior crown formation times presented here can contribute toward human infant age-at-death estimates. Regression equations for reconstructing formation time in worn incisors are given. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.