Malocclusion in early anatomically modern human: A reflection on the etiology of modern dental misalignment

Rachel Sarig, Viviane Slon, Janan Abbas, Hila May, Nir Shpack, Alexander Dan Vardimon, Israel Hershkovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Malocclusions are common in modern populations. Yet, as the study of occlusion requires an almost intact dentition in both the maxilla and mandible, searching for the ultimate cause of malocclusion is a challenge: relatively little ancient material is available for research on occlusal states. The Qafzeh 9 skull is unique, as its preserved dentition allowed us to investigate the presence and manifestations of malocclusion. The aim of this study was thus to examine the occlusal condition in the Qafzeh 9 specimen in light of modern knowledge regarding the etiology of malocclusion. We revealed a pathologic occlusion in the Qafzeh 9 skull that probably originated in the early developmental stage of the dentition, and was aggravated by forces applied by mastication. When arch continuity is interrupted due to misalignment of teeth as in this case, force transmission is not equal on both sides, causing intra-arch outcomes such as mesialization of the teeth, midline deviation, rotations and the aggravation of crowding. All are evident in the Qafzeh 9 skull: the midline deviates to the left; the incisors rotate mesio-buccally; the left segment is constricted; the left first molar is buccally positioned and the left premolars palatally tilted. The inter-arch evaluation revealed anterior cross bite with functional shift that might affect force transmission and bite force. In conclusion, the findings of the current study suggest that malocclusion of developmental origin was already present in early anatomically modern humans (AMH) (the present case being the oldest known case, dated to ca. 100,000 years); that there is no basis to the notion that early AMH had a better adjustment between teeth and jaw size; and that jaw-teeth size discrepancy could be found in prehistoric populations and is not a recent phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80771
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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