Teratomas are germ cell tumors that can generate a broad spectrum of biological tissues including: hair, oil glands, bones, and teeth. Little research has focused on the detailed comparison of…
Teratomas are germ cell tumors that can generate a broad spectrum of biological tissues including: hair, oil glands, bones, and teeth. Little research has focused on the detailed comparison of teeth from growing within teratomas to teeth that grew normally within the oral cavity. Broad similarities in the overall pattern of dental growth have previously been observed using average enamel thickness, a measurement of enamel height, comparisons. Enamel thickness is used to infer functional aspects of dentition. Relative enamel thickness values have not been used in previous studies to account for the difference in size of the teeth.
ASU’s Bioarchaeology of Nubia Expedition (BONE) led by Dr. Brenda Baker discovered the remains of a female individual from the Classic Kerma period with a preserved large teratoma containing hard tissue components including two molariform teeth. There are only three previous recorded instances of teratomas in a paleopathological setting.
This study analyzed the characteristics of teeth found within a teratoma and compared them to permanent oral dentition to ascertain the degree to which dental development is affected by local growth environment. Permanent (oral) molars from multiple individuals and 2 teratoma teeth from a singular individual from the BONE site were analyzed alongside a comparative sample of permanent (oral) molars from an unrelated, more modern population. MicroCT scans were used to create digital renditions of the teeth to create 3D and 2D models to analyze the enamel and dentine of the teeth to measure their morphological characteristics. The relative enamel thickness and the absolute occlusal enamel volumes were calculated. The study found that there are significant differences in enamel thickness between the teratoma teeth and any of its oral cavity counterparts.
This study is unique in that it is the first study to analyze teeth from a teratoma to permanent teeth from the oral cavity using 2D and 3D digital dental models created from microCT data. It is also the first study to analyze these morphological characteristics in an archaeological sample.