Size and location of the human temporomandibular joint

Susanne Wish-Baratz, Israel Hershkovitz, Baruch Arensburg, Bruce Latimer, Lyman M. Jellema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature abounds with conflicting data on various morphometric aspects of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The purpose of this study was to observe the effects of sex, ethnic group, and edentulism on TMJ osseous morphology and to define possible factors which might influence variation in this structure. TMJs and related craniofacial structures were measured directly on 229 dry skulls and matching mandibles. Analysis of variance, principal component analysis, and cluster analysis were performed. Our results indicate that 1) the anteroposterior-related TMJ dimensions are independent of sex, ethnic group, and edentulism; 2) the transverse TMJ dimension is related to cranial breadth measures; and 3) the projected distance, along a midsagittal plane, between the TMJ and foramen magnum is independent of sex, ethnicity, and edentulism. It is our assertion that the TMJ must not be considered as a single morphological structure but rather viewed as a functional unit with component parts which are subordinate to completely different sets of influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-400
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Cranial base
  • Morphometrics
  • TMJ


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