VARIATION IN THE POSITION OF THE MANDIBULAR STRUCTURES OF HUMAN SKULLS

Dapoz, Stephen, Michelle DiPonio, Rachel Weatherhead, and Mary Tracy-Bee

The mandibular foramen is a hole on the medial surface of the lower jaw of humans, through which the inferior alveolar nerve passes.  This nerve is targeted when anesthetizing the lower jaw, as required in many dental procedures.  Our research investigated variability in the position of the mandibular foramen in male and female populations, as well as in Caucasian and African-American populations.  Eighty-one skulls from the Hamaan-Todd collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History were digitally photographed and analyzed in a double blind study. While a significant difference was not identified in the ramus flexure (p=0.595), a significant difference in the condyle to coronoid process, ramus length, and position of the foramen among all groups (p<0.01) was identified. This has great clinical relevance as it may result in variable treatment and positioning of anesthesia needles in patients of different races.