JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Position of the mental foramen in adult black Zimbabwean mandibles: a clinical anatomical study.

OBJECTIVE: To provide some anatomical information on the shape, size, and position of the mental foramen among Black Zimbabweans that could be used as reference material by dental and other health practitioners during clinical practice in Zimbabwe.

DESIGN: Cross sectional anatomical study.

SETTING: Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe.

SUBJECTS: 32 mandibles derived from adult Black Zimbabweans.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The shape of the mental foramen, its relation to the lower teeth and its position in relation to the mandibular symphysis, the posterior border of the ramus of the mandible, the lower border of the mandible, and the alveolar margin.

RESULTS: The shape of the mental foramen was round in 14 out of 32 mandibles (43.8%) and was oval in the remaining 18 (56.3%). The percentage of occurrence of the mental foramen was highest below the lower second premolar tooth on the right side (position 4) and posterior to it on the left side (position 5). In the vertical plane, the mental foramen lay slightly below the midpoint of the distance between the lower border of the mandible and the alveolar margin (44.1% and 45.5% for the right and left sides respectively). In the horizontal plane, it lay approximately one quarter (27.3% for the right and 27.4% for the left sides) of the distance from the mandibular symphysis to the posterior border of the ramus of the mandible.

CONCLUSION: The percentage distribution of the mental foremen in relation to the lower teeth in the adult Black Zimbabwean mandible was at variance with that of other population groups. However, the quantitative position of the mental foremen was bilaterally symmetrical in the adult Black Zimbabwean mandible. The latter observation is of clinical significance to dental and other health practitioners in Zimbabwe with regards to the achievement of effective mental nerve block anaesthesia and the prevention of damage to the mental nerve during surgical procedures on the lower jaw.

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