Current knowledge of tooth development: patterning and mineralization of the murine dentition

J Anat. 2009 Apr;214(4):502-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01014.x.


The integument forms a number of different types of mineralized element, including dermal denticles, scutes, ganoid scales, elasmoid scales, fin rays and osteoderms found in certain fish, reptiles, amphibians and xenarthran mammals. To this list can be added teeth, which are far more widely represented and studied than any of the other mineralized elements mentioned above, and as such can be thought of as a model mineralized system. In recent years the focus for studies on tooth development has been the mouse, with a wealth of genetic information accrued and the availability of cutting edge techniques. It is the mouse dentition that this review will concentrate on. The development of the tooth will be followed, looking at what controls the shape of the tooth and how signals from the mesenchyme and epithelium interact to lead to formation of a molar or incisor. The number of teeth generated will then be investigated, looking at how tooth germ number can be reduced or increased by apoptosis, fusion of tooth germs, creation of new tooth germs, and the generation of additional teeth from existing tooth germs. The development of mineralized tissue will then be detailed, looking at how the asymmetrical deposition of enamel is controlled in the mouse incisor. The continued importance of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions at these later stages of tooth development will also be discussed. Tooth anomalies and human disorders have been well covered by recent reviews, therefore in this paper we wish to present a classical review of current knowledge of tooth development, fitting together data from a large number of recent research papers to draw general conclusions about tooth development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dentition
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Genes, Homeobox / genetics*
  • Genetic Code / genetics
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Odontogenesis / genetics
  • Odontogenesis / physiology*
  • Tooth / growth & development*
  • Tooth / metabolism