Secular trend in tooth size in urban Chinese assessed from two-generation family data.
ABSTRACT Environmental improvements can lead to greater size of skeletodental structures as the population comes closer to expressing its genetic growth potential. Such secular trends have been documented in many human settings, especially for increased stature and faster tempos of growth. The present study is based on 185 same-sex parent-offspring pairs of data for maximum buccolingual crown diameters of the permanent teeth from a cohort in Beijing, China, where parents experienced much of their development during and after World War II with the deprivations of the changing regime. Their offspring enjoyed the relative stability of the established Communist system, where nutrition and stability were much improved. There were significant increases in buccolingual diameters of the premolars and molars in the offspring. Increase for premolars and molars was about 1%, but larger in females than males (1.6% vs. 0.5%). Opposite changes occurred in the incisors and canines (i.e., larger parental dimensions), but we contend that these are an age-related artifact brought on by greater passive eruption of older individuals' teeth that exposes a broader portion of the crown at the gingival margin. The secular trend in crown size coincides with other research in contemporary China, disclosing increases in body size and faster tempos of growth as health and nutrition continue to improve.