Primate dental enamel: What it says about diet

Peter W. Lucas, Paul J. Constantino, James J.W. Lee, Adam Hartstone-Rose, Herzl Chai, Wah Keat Lee, Nathaniel Dominy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


What kinds of fractures do teeth sustain and how do they resist disintegration? This study involved the mechanical loading of extracted human and sea otter teeth using hard and soft indenters to simulate hard and soft diets. The tests were accompanied by real-time imaging. At least three types of fracture were seen in the enamel - median, radial and margin cracks. Each kind of fracture appears to have a different cause, although the distinction between median and radial cracks blurs as they propagate. Only margin cracks appear to form under soft indenters. Several aspects of tooth form can be described as devices to limit damage to a tooth crown against the onslaught of hard or soft foods. The damage modes of teeth are paralleled by the behavior of some bilayered hard foods.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComparative Dental Morphology
Subtitle of host publication14th International Symposium on Dental Morphology, Greifswald, August 2008: Selected papers
EditorsThomas Koppe, Georg Meyer, Kurt W. Alt, ALAN Brook, M. Christopher Dean, Inger KjAR, Lukacs Lukacs, B. Holly Smith, Mark F. Teaford
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameFrontiers of Oral Biology
ISSN (Print)1420-2433
ISSN (Electronic)1662-3770


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