Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 395–399 | Cite as

Sexual dimorphism in teeth? Clinical relevance

  • Ralf J. RadlanskiEmail author
  • Herbert Renz
  • Werner Hopfenmüller
Original Article


Many morphometric studies show a sexual dimorphism in human teeth. We wanted to know whether it is possible to determine the sex of an individual if only the anterior teeth are visible. Fifty intraoral photographs showing the front tooth region of female and male individuals (age: from 7 to 75 years) were randomly arranged in actual size on a questionnaire. The lip region was covered in each case. Besides "female" and "male", one was also able to check "?" if undecided. The questionnaires were distributed to 50 expert test persons (dentists, dental technicians, dental assistants, and students of dental medicine) and to 50 laymen and were all returned for evaluation. Although the correct sex was recognized on single photographs to a maximum of 76%, it was incorrect in 69% on other photographs. Altogether, the statistical evaluation showed that in most cases, the sex was only recognized correctly by one half, and incorrect by the other half. It can be concluded that a sexual dimorphism of human teeth—although measurable morphometrically—could not be recognized visually on the basis of photographs of the front tooth region. Neither experts in the field of dentistry nor laymen were able to properly distinguish between male and female teeth.


Sexual dimorphism Teeth Morphometry Questionnaire 



We thank Mrs. Beate Lion for her skillful assistance in preparing and conducting this study. We further thank Ms. Marion Bonner of eubylon GmbH for checking our manuscript as a native speaker.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    Sjovold T (1988) Geschlechtsdiagnose am Skelett. In: Knußmann R (ed) Anthropologie. Fischer, Stuttgart, pp 444–480Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kieser JA (1990) Human adult odontometrics. The study of variation in adult tooth size. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ling JY, Wong RW (2007) Tooth dimensions of Southern Chinese. Homo 58:67–73PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Miethke RR (1972) Zahnbreiten und Zahnbreitenkorrelationen. Dissertation. Freie Universitaet, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Prabhu S, Acharya AB (2009) Odontometric sex assessment in Indians. Forensic Sci Int 192(129):e1–5PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Teschler-Nicola M (1992) Sexualdimorphismus der Zahnkronendurchmesser. Ein Beitrag zur multivarianten Geschlechterbestimmung im Kindesalter anhand des frühbronzezeitlichen Gräberfeldes von Franzhausen I. Anthropol Anz 50:51–65PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Teschler-Nicola M, Prossinger H (1998) Sex determination using tooth dimensions. In: Alt KW, Rösing FW, Teschler-Nicola M (eds) Dental anthropology. Fundamentals, limits, and prospects. Springer, Wien, pp 479–500Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Black TK 3rd (1978) Sexual dimorphism in the tooth-crown diameters of the deciduous teeth. Am J Phys Anthropol 48:77–82PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hattab FN, al-Khateeb S, Sultan I (1996) Mesiodistal crown diameters of permanent teeth in Jordanians. Arch Oral Biol 41:641–645PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Margetts B, Brown T (1978) Crown diameters of the deciduous teeth in Australian Aboriginals. Am J Phys Anthropol 48:493–502PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Shields ED, Altschuller B, Choi EY, Michaud M (1990) Odontometric variation among American black, European, and Mongoloid populations. J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol 10:7–18PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Frucht S, Schnegelsberg C, Schulte-Monting J, Rose E, Jonas I (2000) Dental age in southwest Germany. A radiographic study. J Orofac Orthop 61:318–329PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Schwartz GT, Dean MC (2005) Sexual dimorphism in modern human permanent teeth. Am J Phys Anthropol 128:312–317PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Acharya AB, Mainali S (2009) Limitations of the mandibular canine index in sex assessment. J Forensic Leg Med 16:67–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hörauf K (1958) Form und Stellung der Frontzähne in ihrer Beziehung zu Körperbautypen. Carl Hanser Verlag, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Horn R (1985) Zur Brauchbarkeit der Dreiform-These nach Williams. Zahnärztl Prax 6:220–221Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Haralabakis NB, Sifakakis I, Papagrigorakis M, Papadakis G (2006) The correlation of sexual dimorphism in tooth size and arch form. World J Orthod 7:254–260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Biggerstaff RH (1975) Cusp size, sexual dimorphism, and heritability of cusp size in twins. Am J Phys Anthropol 42:127–139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Alvesalo L, Nuutila M, Portin P (1975) The cusp of Carabelli. Occurrence in first upper molars and evaluation of its heritability. Acta Odontol Scand 33:191–197PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Khraisat A, Taha ST, Jung RE, Hattar S, Smadi L, Al-Omari IK, Jarbawi M (2007) Prevalence, association, and sexual dimorphism of Carabelli’s molar and shovel incisor traits amongst Jordanian population. Odontostomatol Trop 30:7–21Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tanguay R, Demirjian A, Thibault HW (1984) Sexual dimorphism in the emergence of the deciduous teeth. J Dent Res 63:65–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Thompson GW, Anderson DL, Popovich F (1975) Sexual dimorphism in dentition mineralization. Growth 39:289–301PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rozylo-Kalinowska I, Kiworkowa-Raczkowska E, Kalinowski P (2008) Dental age in Central Poland. Forensic Sci Int 174:207–216PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Iscan MY, Kedici P (2003) Sexual variation in bucco-lingual dimensions in Turkish dentition. Forensic Sci Int 137:160–164PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralf J. Radlanski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Herbert Renz
    • 1
  • Werner Hopfenmüller
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Dental and Craniofacial Sciences, Dept. of Craniofacial Developmental BiologyCharité - Campus Benjamin Franklin at Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Biometry and Clinical EpidemiologyCharité - Campus Benjamin Franklin at Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations