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Sexual dimorphism in teeth: discriminatory effectiveness of permanent lower canine size observed in a XVIIIth century osteological series

Forensic Science International
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0379-0738(02)00080-4
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • Teeth
  • Sex Determination
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Mathematics


Abstract Recent studies have shown that the most dimorphic tooth is the mandibular canine. We have carried out a study on a random sample of 146 skeletons dating from the plague outbreak in Marseilles (1722). We studied 1284 maxillary and 1432 mandibular permanent teeth. Sexual dimorphism was tested on 89 individuals. We selected a set of four dental indices and calculated the dimorphism percentage by ratio expression male/female. Dimorphic ranking was made, by allotting the first rank to the tooth presenting the highest dimorphism and the last rank to the one presenting the lowest ratio. Comparisons of means were made on both sexes (sex determined by post-cranial data) through a Student’s test ( t-test). We noted that lower canines and lateral incisor are the most interesting teeth in the dimorphic dental determination. The lower index presented the highest relative risk with RR=1.56 [1.04–2.32]. In 58% of the cases, the lower dental index enabled a correct sex determination (determined on the basis of the post-cranial skeleton). These results showed the existence of a relative dental dimorphism (male>female mesiodistal diameters) with humans. In conclusion, this method, using dental measurements, may be used as an additional technique to determine sex on fragmentary adult skeletons, immature material, missing pieces or ambiguities on post-cranial remains.

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