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Human mandibular shape is associated with masticatory muscle force

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JournalScientific Reports
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 16 Apr 2018
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Original languageEnglish


Understanding how and to what extent forces applied to the mandible by the masticatory muscles influence its form, is of considerable importance from clinical, anthropological and evolutionary perspectives. This study investigates these questions. Head CT scans of 382 adults were utilized to measure masseter and temporalis muscle cross-sectional areas (CSA) as a surrogate for muscle force, and 17 mandibular anthropometric measurements. Sixty-two mandibles of young individuals (20-40 years) whose scans were without artefacts (e.g., due to tooth filling) were segmented and landmarked for geometric morphometric analysis. The association between shape and muscle CSA (controlled for size) was assessed using two-block partial least squares analysis. Correlations were computed between mandibular variables and muscle CSAs (all controlled for size). A significant association was found between mandibular shape and muscle CSAs, i.e. larger CSAs are associated with a wider more trapezoidal ramus, more massive coronoid, more rectangular body and a more curved basal arch. Linear measurements yielded low correlations with muscle CSAs. In conclusion, this study demonstrates an association between mandibular muscle force and mandibular shape, which is not as readily identified from linear measurements. Retrodiction of masticatory muscle force and so of mandibular loading is therefore best based on overall mandibular shape.

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© The Author(s) 2018

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