SRM Journal of Research in Dental Sciences

: 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 197--199

Intermolar width: A reliable tool in gender determination

S Ananth Babu, G Anand Prabhu, Bharanidharan Ravindrakumar, R Ramya, Priyadharini Shankaran, A Ramesh 
 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Microbiology, SRM Dental College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Priyadharini Shankaran
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Microbiology, SRM Dental College, Ramapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu


Introduction: Forensic odontology plays a pivotal part in victim recognition. Stable landmarks enable identification of the deceased when the remains are mutilated par recognition. In our study, we propose to employ intermolar width as an aid in gender determination.Aim: The aim of this study was to determine and correlate the intermolar width with either gender. Materials and Methods: The intermolar widths of 100 patients were determined. Impressions were made and the dental casts were evaluated using a Digital Vernier Caliper for intermolar width. Results: In our study, mean was calculated for intermolar arch width in maxillary arch for males and females. Student's t-test was employed to evaluate the means of the intermolar width in maxillary and mandibular arches for males and females. The mean was statistically significant with P< 0.05. Male and female maxillary arch intermolar width was 45.74 ± 2.09 and 47.44 ± 1.82, respectively, with t value of 5.98. Conclusion: From the results, we conclude that maxillary intermolar arch width can be employed as a tool in gender identification of individuals.

How to cite this article:
Babu S A, Prabhu G A, Ravindrakumar B, Ramya R, Shankaran P, Ramesh A. Intermolar width: A reliable tool in gender determination.SRM J Res Dent Sci 2019;10:197-199

How to cite this URL:
Babu S A, Prabhu G A, Ravindrakumar B, Ramya R, Shankaran P, Ramesh A. Intermolar width: A reliable tool in gender determination. SRM J Res Dent Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 2 ];10:197-199
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Forensic is derived from the Latin word Forum which means “court of law” and odontology refers to the study of teeth. Forensic medical specialty, therefore, has been defined by the Federation Dentaire International as “that branch of dentistry which, in the interest of justice, deals with the proper handling and examination of dental proof, and with the proper evaluation and presentation of dental findings.”[1]

Forensics can be broadly defined as applying science in judiciary.[2] While there are several branches of forensics such as art forensics, computational forensics, criminalistics, digital forensics, ear print analysis, forensic accounting, forensic aerial photography, forensic archeology, astronomy, botany, chemistry, and dactyloscopy that which holds our attention is forensic anthropology which is associated with the use of physical anthropology in legal setting usually associated with identification pertaining to human remains and forensic odontology. Forensic odontology is the study of the uniqueness of the teeth and its associated structures.[3]

As unique as fingerprints, dentition also serves the same and used in the identification of individuals. The dentition's use in gender determination has been explored and advocated because of its strength and resistance to varied insults.[4] As teeth are the hardest and chemically the most stable tissue in the body, they are an excellent material in living and nonliving populations for forensic investigations. Hence, tooth size standards based on odontometric investigations can be used in determining the age and particularly the gender. With such tooth size standards, whenever it is possible to predict the gender, identification is simplified because then only missing persons of one gender need to be considered. In this sense, the identification of gender takes precedence over the age. Sexual dimorphism refers to those differences in size, stature, and appearance between male and female that can be applied for individual identification.[5]

This study aimed to determine and evaluate the usefulness of intermolar arch width of the maxilla for gender determination. Interdental arch width and arch length have been helpful in various studies for gender determination, anthropometric analysis, and orthodontic treatment planning.”

 Materials and Methods

The research was conducted at SRM Dental College in Chennai. The sample size was of 100 volunteers with equal gender distribution and aged between 18 and 35 years.

Inclusion criteria

Volunteers in good general healthPresence of two molars in the upper jaw.

Exclusion criteria

Carious lesions of the first molarPatients with missing first molarsMalaligned molars.

Hundred patients consisting of 50 males and 50 females, as per inclusion criteria, were selected for the study. The patient was evaluated clinically. Patients with normal overjet and overbite with normal molar relationship were included in the study. Patients with the presence of partially erupted teeth, with deleterious oral habits, and having teeth with severe attrition were excluded from the study. Once a person was selected, a written consent was obtained from the patient after explaining the procedure and the purpose of the study. After that, the patient was comfortably seated on the dental chair and height adjustment done before wearing gloves. Maxillary impressions were made with alginate using universal precautions for infection control. The study models were prepared in dental stone and used for the analysis. On the study model, the measurements taken included intermolar arch width using a Digital Vernier Caliper. The intermolar arch width was calculated from the central fossa of the first permanent molar on either side [Figure 1].{Figure 1}


In this study, arithmetic means were calculated for intermolar arch width in maxillary arches for males and females. Student's t-test was used to compare the means of the intermolar width in maxillary and mandibular arches for males and females. All the comparison of means made was statistically significant with P< 0.05. Intermolar width in maxillary arch for males and females was 45.74 ± 2.09 and 47.44 ± 1.82, respectively, with t value of 5.98 [Table 1].{Table 1}


With an increase in the number of natural, as well as man-made calamities such as earthquakes, floods, wars, and riots, the need to correctly identify the remains of dead individuals has increased.[6] Individual identification depends on different parameters such as age, gender, and race. Gender determination is one of the important steps employed in the identification of an individual. If the sex of the individual is evaluated either male or female and if identified accurately, the total number of missing or lost victims can be confined to just half of the total population of both the sexes. In forensic cases, it is common to recover partial remains such as fragmented skull, jaws, and other bones of the body.[7] The teeth being one of the strongest human tissues are known to resist a variety of antemortem and postmortem insults and are one of the most commonly recovered remains. Mesiodistal width of canine, intercanine width, have been used to determine gender in the past and are supported by many researchers. However, recent research by Acharya et al. and Boaz et al. has found that these measurements do not reflect the gender difference accurately. In anthropology, the analysis of dental wear is the most commonly used method.[8]

Furthermore, these measurements are not useful in individuals with missing canines. In such cases, width of molars or intermolar arch width may be used in gender determination. Hence, in our study, intermolar arch width was used to determine the gender. In our study, the mean intermolar width in maxilla were significantly higher in males than that of females. This observation is in agreement with the study done by other authors, wherein they stated that boys have wider teeth and larger upper and lower inter-molar width than girls.[9] This may be because the dental arch width reflects the size of the basal bone and since males, in general, are larger than females; the same would reflect itself in the basal bone of the jaws and the dental arches.

However, in our study, the maxillary intermolar width was found to have the highest t value, which was due to the most significant difference in the values of intermolar arch width in males as compared to females, making it the most useful measurement to determine gender correctly.


Although the odontometric measurements based on canines are quite popular and have been substantiated from time to time for determining gender, these are rendered invaluable where canines are absent. In such cases, where molars are present, these teeth may be used to determine gender. On the basis of the results of our study, we may conclude that maxillary intermolar arch width may be useful in determining the gender of dental remains accurately, of individuals with missing canine teeth, and also it may be more accurate in gender determination than intercanine arch width, with maxillary intermolar arch width being more specific.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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