Canine Teeth

Lou Mario (
17 Jul 1995 21:09:12 GMT

Dave B. recently asked about the canine teeth's functional significance
in humans and why they are so small as opposed in other mammals.
Actually they maintain the longest and strongest root in the mouth. They
function to guide the teeth in to lateral excursions. This function
termed canine guidance ensures the protection from posterior cusp
fracture. Being omnivorous, we homo sapiens still need the anterior
overbite to incise meat, and the sharp posterior cuspal antomy to chew
cellulose and what not. In order to prevent these posterior cusps from
wearing, the canines disarticulate the posterior teeth during
masticatation. Those humans without it rely on group functionwhich
usually results in increased wear to the posterior cuspal inclines.

This is a quick summary but I am willing to discuss more or refer you to
other sources in the literature.


The Dental Anthropologist