Georgia Journal of Science


Characterized by pits, furrows, or swales on the surface of teeth, enamel hypoplasia is a permanent record of disturbances that hinder the development of ameloblasts (cells responsible for enamel deposition). These defects develop in response to physiological stressors that disrupt the typical formation of enamel. In this study, the mandibles of fifty-seven Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) collected from Baldwin County, Georgia, were inspected for enamel hypoplasia. Swales, pits, and/or linear furrows were noted on the lower molars of 60% of the opossums. No difference in the rate of occurrence was observed between males and females. Within the subset of individuals exhibiting enamel hypoplasia, the defects were observed more frequently on the second (68%), first (45%), and third (36%) lower molars, and less frequently on the fourth (3%). Analysis of the order of tooth formation in this species indicates that the first and second lower molars were developing at the time of weaning. This pattern of hypoplasia suggests