Drifting of teeth in the mandible studied in adult human autopsy material

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Increase in lower anterior crowding is a general problem among adult Caucasians. The tooth movement responsible for this phenomenon, however, is not fully elucidated. Aim of this study was to describe signs of ongoing tooth movement reflected in the thickness of the bundle bone around mandibular teeth and the distribution of eroding surfaces of the alveolar wall in human autopsy material.

Material and Methods

The distribution of bundle bone and eroding surfaces was assessed histomorphometrically on 106 mandibular teeth, and the surrounding bone obtained at autopsy from 35 deceased persons ranging from 19 to 55 years of age. By examining the mesio-distal and bucco–lingual aspects at the cervical and apical levels of the roots, a pattern of tooth movements could be established.


The distribution of the bundle bone thickness and the vectors of eroding surfaces enabled the direction of tooth movement to be reconstructed. Mesial and lingual displacement was prevalent for the anterior teeth.


The signs of ongoing displacement of lower teeth support the concept of crowding occurring in adult individuals and support the maintenance of retainers, even following cessation of growth.

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