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Title: Incisal orientation and biting efficiency
Authors: Ang, K.Y.
Lucas, P.W.
Tan, H.T.W. 
Keywords: Fracture efficiency
Incisor teeth
Tooth shape
Issue Date: Jun-2006
Citation: Ang, K.Y., Lucas, P.W., Tan, H.T.W. (2006-06). Incisal orientation and biting efficiency. Journal of Human Evolution 50 (6) : 663-672. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Broad-edged 'spatulate' upper and lower incisors are distinctive of catarrhines and platyrrhines who use them in various ways to peel fruits, remove bark, and strip leaves from branches. The incisors of modern humans not only control the bite size of foods during ingestion, but often grip items in a number of non-food related tasks. Such uses have long been implicated for Neandertals as well. Despite the evolutionary importance of incision and the fact that the incisors feature prominently in clinical dentistry (via orthodontic practices designed both to correct incisal misalignments and adjust their orientation), little is known about what affects their functional efficiency. Few mechanical analyses of incisal action have been published and none that seem to take note of the mechanisms of both fracture and friction at the tooth-food interface. Here, we modeled the incisal tip as a wedge, finding that the efficiency of biting foods that fracture elastically is strongly dependent on both the apex angle of the incisor and the coefficient of friction. Based on apex angle measurements from a small sample of human central incisors, the overall efficiency of upper central incisors is predicted to be greatest when the angle between the apex bisector and the direction of applied force is zero. However, this is complicated greatly by friction, particularly for the lower incisors. The analysis probably applies not only to the use of incisors by humans, but also to some extent to frugivorous primates. This model should clarify the mechanics behind incision and can provide a basic foundation upon which more advanced models can be built on in the future. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Journal of Human Evolution
ISSN: 00472484
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.01.003
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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