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Patterns of variation in canal and root number in human post-canine teeth.

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Descriptive morphology of tooth roots traditionally focuses on number of canals and roots. However, how or if canal and root number are related is poorly understood. While it is often assumed that canal number is concomitant with root number and morphology, in practice canal number and morphology do not always covary with external root features. To investigate the relationship between canal and root number, fully developed, adult post-canine teeth were examined and quantified from computerized tomography scans from a global sample of 945 modern humans. We tested the hypotheses that root and canal number do not follow a 1:1 ratio, that canal to root ratios differ between teeth, and that canal to root ratios differ across major human geographical groups. Results indicate that not only is root number dependent on canal number, but that this relationship becomes more variable as canal number increases, varies between individual teeth and by major geographical group, and changes as these groups increase in geographical distance from Sub-Saharan Africa. These results show that the ratio of canal number to root number is an important indicator of variation in dental phenotypes.


Funder: University of Cambridge


dental anthropology, human dental evolution, root canals, tooth roots, Adult, Cone-Beam Computed Tomography, Cuspid, Dental Pulp Cavity, Humans, Phenotype, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Tooth Root

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