Variability in the Location of the Mandibular Foramen in African-American and Caucasian Populations of Male and Female Skulls

Bee, Mary, Milad Rabban, Herpreet Sethi, Chad Baker, and William Forbes

The mandibular foramen is a hole on the medial surface of the mandible 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. One hundred skulls from the Hamaan-Todd collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History were digitally photographed and analyzed. Preliminary results do not identify a significant difference in the position of the foramen between males and females (p>0.05). However, a significant difference in the antero-posterior position of the foramen in Caucasian and African-American populations was identified (p<0.01). This has great clinical relevance as it may result in variable treatment and positioning of anesthesia needles in patients of different races.