Tubercle of Carabelli

Usually, the upper first molar teeth have four cusps, looking like horns. Cusps help the teeth to pierce and crush food, and prevent prey or food from slipping away.

Some people have upper molar teeth with an extra cusp on the palatal side (near the tongue). The cusp on the palatal side is called the cusp or tubercle of Carabelli; if they are present, the tubercles are usually found on the first molar, and less commonly in the second or third molar. The tubercle of Carabelli is most common among Europeans, less common among Asians, and least common among Pacific Islanders. This fact allows the forensic odontologist to narrow down the search for the ethnicity of the victims of disasters or unnatural deaths, and helps the paleontologist to determine the migration pattern of early human inhabitants. 

Note extra cusps on the palatal side of the molar teeth. Unusual tooth morphology makes it difficult to fit the tooth against the opposing teeth in the opposite jaw.

Note extra cusps on the palatal side of the molar teeth. Unusual tooth morphology in this case makes it difficult to fit the tooth against the opposing teeth in the opposite jaw. See Cusp of Carabelli in Wikipedia.

 

Regular upper left first molar anatomy, with four cusps.

Regular upper left first molar anatomy, with four cusps.

See also: Abnormal molar tooth and Small conical incisors 

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