Unravelling the functional biomechanics of dental features and tooth wear

  • Most of the morphological features recognized in hominin teeth, particularly the topography of the occlusal surface, are generally interpreted as an evolutionary functional adaptation for mechanical food processing. In this respect, we can also expect that the general architecture of a tooth reflects a response to withstand the high stresses produced during masticatory loadings. Here we use an engineering approach, finite element analysis (FEA), with an advanced loading concept derived from individual occlusal wear information to evaluate whether some dental traits usually found in hominin and extant great ape molars, such as the trigonid crest, the entoconid-hypoconulid crest and the protostylid have important biomechanical implications. For this purpose, FEA was applied to 3D digital models of three Gorilla gorilla lower second molars (M2) differing in wear stages. Our results show that in unworn and slightly worn M2s tensile stresses concentrate in the grooves of the occlusal surface. In such condition, the trigonid and the entoconid-hypoconulid crests act to reinforce the crown locally against stresses produced along the mesiodistal groove. Similarly, the protostylid is shaped like a buttress to suffer the high tensile stresses concentrated in the deep buccal groove. These dental traits are less functional in the worn M2, because tensile stresses decrease physiologically in the crown with progressing wear due to the enlargement of antagonistic contact areas and changes in loading direction from oblique to nearly parallel direction to the dental axis. This suggests that the wear process might have a crucial influence in the evolution and structural adaptation of molars enabling to endure bite stresses and reduce tooth failure throughout the lifetime of an individual.

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Author:Stefano BenazziORCiDGND, Huynh Nhu NguyenORCiD, Ottmar KullmerORCiDGND, Jean-Jacques HublinORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23894570
Parent Title (English):PLoS One
Place of publication:Lawrence, Kan.
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/07/23
Date of first Publication:2013/07/23
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/08/19
Page Number:10
Copyright: © 2013 Benazzi et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0