Skip to main content

Dental fast track: Prenatal enamel growth, incisor eruption, and weaning in human infants

Mahoney, Patrick (2015) Dental fast track: Prenatal enamel growth, incisor eruption, and weaning in human infants. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 156 (3). pp. 407-421. ISSN 0002-9483. E-ISSN 1096-8644. (doi:10.1002/ajpa.22666) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:44500)

PDF (Restricted due to publisher copyright policy) Publisher pdf
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
Official URL


Correlation between the timing of permanent first molar eruption and weaning age in extant primates has provided a way to infer a life history event in fossil species, but recent debate has questioned whether the same link is present in human infants. Deciduous incisors erupt at an age when breast milk can be supplemented with additional foods (mixed feeding), and weaning is typically complete before permanent first molars erupt. Here, I use histological methods to calculate the prenatal rate by which enamel increases in thickness and height on human deciduous incisors, canines, and molars (n = 125). Growth trajectories for each tooth type are related to the trimesters and assessed against the eruption sequence and final crown height. Analyses show that central incisors initiate early in the second trimester with significantly faster secretion rates relative to canines and second molars, which initiate closer to birth. Even though initial extension rates were correlated with crown height and scaled with positive allometry within each tooth class, the relatively short incisors still increased in height at a significantly faster rate than the taller canines and molars. The incisor prenatal “fast track” produces a greater proportion of the crown before birth than all other tooth types. This growth mechanism likely facilitates early incisor eruption at a time when the mixed feeding of infants can be initiated as part of the weaning process. Findings provide a basis from which to explore new links between developmental trends along the tooth row and mixed feeding age in other primates.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/ajpa.22666
Uncontrolled keywords: life history; incremental markings; allometry; circadian rhythm
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Patrick Mahoney
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 14:00 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mahoney, Patrick:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year