Do mandibular cross-sectional properties and dental microwear give similar dietary signals?

Jason M. Organ, Christopher B. Ruff, Mark F. Teaford, Richard A. Nisbett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Previous animal experimental work evaluating the effects of dietary consistency on mastication was generally limited to studies of either mandibular structure or rates and types of tooth wear. Control groups fed hard diets (HD) consistently exhibited increased cortical remodeling and/or bone strength when compared to groups fed soft diets (SD). Results of toothwear studies showed faster rates of tooth wear in HD animals. This study evaluates the effects of dietary differences on both mandibular structural morphology and postcanine dental microwear in the same animals. We examined mandibles and dentitions from eight miniature swine, raised from 4 weeks to 9 months of age on HD and SD (n = 4, each group). Mandibular structural properties were calculated from peripheral quantitative computed tomography slices at the dp3-dp4 and dp4-M1 junctions. Dental microwear analysis was performed on mandibular lingual crushing facets of dp4 and M1, using photomicrographs of high-resolution casts taken at 500× magnification in a scanning electron microscope. Our results suggest that between the dp3-dp4 contact, HD animals have mandibles that are stronger and more rigid mediolaterally than SD animals. At the dp4-M1 contact, HD animals have mandibles that are stronger and more rigid mediolaterally, dorsoventrally, and in torsion than SD animals. Dental microwear results indicate that SD pigs have higher incidences of pitting and more overall microwear features on their premolars than do HD pigs, yet there are no significant differences in molar microwear morphology between the dietary groups. Near-significant correlations exist between pit size and dorsoventral bending strength, but only for HD pigs. These results suggest that dietary consistency significantly affects both mandibular structure and dental microwear, yet direct correlations between the two are complicated by a number of factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-507
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006



  • Biomechanics
  • Computed tomography
  • Mastication
  • Sus scrofa
  • Torsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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