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Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2009 Jun;30(5):292-300.

Origins of dental crowding and malocclusions: an anthropological perspective.

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University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.


The study of ancient Egyptian skeletons from Amarna, Egypt reveals extensive tooth wear but very little dental crowding, unlike in modern Americans. In the early 20th century, Percy Raymond Begg focused his research on extreme tooth wear coincident with traditional diets to justify teeth removal during orthodontic treatment. Anthropologists studying skeletons that were excavated along the Nile Valley in Egypt and the Sudan have demonstrated reductions in tooth size and changes in the face, including decreased robustness associated with the development of agriculture, but without any increase in the frequency of dental crowding and malocclusion. For thousands of years, facial and dental reduction stayed in step, more or less. These analyses suggest it was not the reduction in tooth wear that increased crowding and malocclusion, but rather the tremendous reduction in the forces of mastication, which produced this extreme tooth wear and the subsequent reduced jaw involvement. Thus, as modern food preparation techniques spread throughout the world during the 19th century, so did dental crowding. This research provides support for the development of orthodontic therapies that increase jaw dimensions rather than the use of tooth removal to relieve crowding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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