A model of temporomandibular joint function in anthropoid primates based on condylar movements during mastication.
The hypothesis that the shape of the bony temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is functionally related to sagittal sliding of the condyle during mastication is tested, and a model of the relation of sagittal sliding to mandibular size, TMJ shape, and diet is developed. Sagittal sliding is defined as fore-aft motion of the condyle during mandibular translation and/or angular rotation. Ascending ramus height is used as a structural correlate of the distance between the condyle and the mandibular axis of rotation (CR). Cineradiographic data on sagittal sliding and gape during mastication in Ateles spp., Macaca fascicularis, Papio anubis, and Pan troglodytes in conjunction with comparative data on mandibular size and TMJ shape are used to evaluate the hypothesis. The results show that 1) linear and angular gape are highly positively correlated with sagittal sliding, 2) pure mandibular translation is rare during mastication, 3) the CR is rarely if ever located at the condyle during mastication, 4) angular gape should be standardized in interindividual comparisons of sagittal sliding, and 5) the height of the ascending ramus (and by inference the CR-to-condyle distance) is highly positively correlated with absolute sagittal sliding. Sagittal sliding relative to the length of the articular eminence was the variable used to explore the relation between TMJ shape and sliding. This variable standardized absolute sagittal sliding relative to joint size. The relative depth and orientation of the articular eminence were not correlated with relative sagittal sliding. The anteroposterior curvature of the condyle was highly negatively correlated with relative sagittal sliding. Flat condyles are associated with large amounts of relative sagittal sliding. A flat condyle increases joint contact area, which reduces joint stress. A flat condyle also increases joint congruence, and this may facilitate the combined sliding and rolling motion of the condyle when the sliding motion is relatively large. The shape of the entoglenoid process was also positively correlated with relative sagittal sliding. A relatively large entoglenoid process may help to guide sagittal sliding and prevent excessive mediolateral sliding of the condyle. The functional model makes a number of predictions about the correlations between food consistency and food object size, mandibular size, TMJ shape, and sagittal sliding of the condyle during mastication and incision.
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