Volume 48, Issue 2 (March 2003)
Tooth Formation and the Mandibular Symphysis During the First Five Postnatal Months
Schedules based on tooth development are useful in age assessments of children, but in early infancy they are based on only a few studies. The radiographic appearance of the mandibular symphysis during the first postnatal months has not gained attention. The present study describes the formation of teeth and the development of fusion between the mandibular halves during the first five postnatal months, as seen in panoramic tomograms taken in medicolegal autopsies of 29 ethnic Finns, 19 boys and 10 girls, at the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki. In the majority of the infants, the criteria of sudden infant death (SID) were fulfilled. The stages of tooth formation used were those applied by Moorrees et al. (5) with one modification (Nystrom et al. (7)).
Mineralization of all primary teeth proceeded rapidly during the first postnatal months, the change being on average two developmental stages in four months. Considerable variation in tooth development existed in infancy. The mandibular halves were separated at birth. Complete fusion had occurred in the majority of infants aged four months, and the tomograms of the remaining infants showed a thin vertical line in a part of the symphysis. The marked changes, which during the first postnatal months occur in the radiographical appearance of the mandibular symphysis, and in the formation of primary teeth, provide valuable information for age assessments of infants.