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J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol. 1997 Apr-Jun;17(2):96-102.

Dietary consistency and craniofacial development related to masticatory function in minipigs.

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Department of Anthropology, The University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Since the 1890s oral biological researchers have been interested in the idea that strenuous mastication of unprocessed food will stimulate proper oral-facial growth and occlusal relationships. Conversely, lack of such function due to consumption of refined food is one hypothesis among many for the etiology of malocclusion in industrialized humans. Adequately controlled experimental testing of the idea has been limited to rats. To investigate the "disuse" theory in a larger-bodied and more occlusally relevant animal model, we raised four Yucatan minipigs from weaning on hard diet (HD) and another four on softened but equivalent diet (SD). The animals were monitored for eight months, sacrificed, and then occlusal and osteometric data collected. Variations due to dietary regime are pervasive and not due to caries, periodontitis, or attrition differences. Whereas HD body weight is 10% greater than SD, the deep masseter is 25% greater, with similar disproportion in superficial masseter and temporalis weight. Facial prognathism, arch narrowness, tooth crowding/maleruption and posterior cranial tapering are markedly different in the two groups. A curious posterior torsional difference in the mandibular rami, as well as broadness and flatness of the mandibular symphysis, also occur in SD. We performed a Q-mode principal coordinates analysis of the 19 logged variables for the specimens, bootstrapping the variable list, to demonstrate a statistically significant (P < .01) overall pattern of dramatic differences. Having controlled other celebrated orthodontic etiologies (genetic background, respiratory mode, infectious degeneration and interproximal attrition), these results support the proposition that dietary consistency relates directly to human craniofacial growth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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