Quantitative studies of incremental markings retained within human enamel have reconstructed the duration and rate (crown and cusp formation times, initiation and completion, daily enamel secretion rates) of permanent tooth development. This approach has provided one way of estimating human age-at-death, and facilitated comparative dental studies of primate evolution. Similar applications from deciduous enamel are inhibited because developmental reconstructions from incremental markings for these teeth are less frequently reported in the literature. This study quantified the duration and rate of enamel development for mesial (protoconid, metaconid) and distal cusps (hypoconid, entoconid) for first (dm1) and second (dm2) deciduous mandibular molars from an archaeological sample of modern human juveniles. Crown formation time can be calculated from the dm1 protoconid because growth initiates and completes in this cusp, and from the dm2 protoconid combined with the final period of hypoconid growth. The dm1 postnatal crown formation time included the time taken for the tubercle of Zuckerkandl to develop, and differed slightly compared to radiographic methods. The majority of dm1 protoconid cuspal (occlusal region) enamel formed before birth. The dm2 entoconid enamel formed mainly after birth. Birth reduced daily enamel secretion rates, changed the visibility of incremental markings, and disrupted enamel growth for 3 to 8 days. Findings presented here can contribute to age-at-death estimates for human infants aged 13-postnatal months or less, and should facilitate comparisons of primate deciduous incremental enamel development in an evolutionary context. Regression equations are included so that cuspal formation time can be estimated from enamel thickness
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