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Keywords:

  • biomechanics;
  • feeding;
  • finite elements analysis;
  • function;
  • Macaca;
  • ontogeny;
  • strain

Abstract

The superior transverse torus of the catarrhine mandible has been shown to effectively reduce bending at the symphysis during unilateral postcanine biting. While the adult superior transverse torus contains trabecular bone, the juvenile one is almost entirely filled by developing permanent incisors until their eruption. This study uses finite elements analysis (FEA) to investigate whether the presence of developing incisors in the juvenile symphysis increases strains on the superior transverse torus. Two FE models of a juvenile Macaca fascicularis mandible were created: one included all the developing teeth; the second was modified to remove the incisor tooth crypts by filling them with trabecular bone. The models were loaded identically to simulate static physiological unilateral biting on dp4 and strain magnitudes, patterns and distributions of the two FE models were compared. The FEA results show a notable increase in strain magnitudes by up to 40% when the developing incisors are present. The results indicate that, in order to maintain the same symphyseal strain magnitudes during chewing, the presence of the incisors in the symphysis necessitates a larger superior transverse torus in the juvenile than would be required if the superior transverse torus did not house the developing incisors. These results highlight the adaptational balance of the symphyseal morphology throughout ontogeny between biomechanics and the spatial demands of the developing dentition. Based on the findings we therefore propose that the spatial requirements of the developing incisors during ontogeny can act as a constraint on the functional adaptation and subsequent adult morphology observed in the catarrhine mandibular symphysis.