Evaluation of the dental pathology in archaeological skeletal material: prevalence of dental caries since prehistory to modern age


Authors: Petra Stránská
Authors‘ workplace: Archeologický ústav AV ČR, v. v. i., Praha
Published in: Čas. Lék. čes. 2013; 152: 196-205
Category: Original Article

Overview

Background.
The evaluation of the dentalhealth of past populations is an important part of the anthropological analysisof human skeletal remains uncovered during the archaeological excavations. Theresults provide the important information not only of the overall health ofpast populations, but also are reflective of the nutrition or the social statusof our ancestors. We focused on the comparison of dental caries fromprehistoric times to the present day. The aim was to evaluate the dental decayin several prehistoric, Early Medieval and modern populations and determinewhether and to what extent the decay differ between the individual groups.

Methods and results.
We observed the permanentdentition in adult men and females, who were divided into three groups: thepopulation of the younger Eneolithic to the Bronze Age, the population of theEarly Middle Ages and the population of the modern times. We used the Index ofIntensity of Caries I-CE and the Index of Caries Frequency F-CE to evaluate theincidence of caries and intra-vital losses. The comparison was carried outbetween groups, between both of jaws and between individual teeth. We took intoaccount sex and age of the individuals studied. The highest value of F-CE wasset in the population of the modern times (67.5). The difference in cariesfrequency among populations was not significant. The intensity of caries wasthe highest in modern population (I-CE: 13.2). Compared with the two olderpopulations the difference was statistically highly significant (p ≤ 0.001).With regard to sex, the results differed between populations. It could becaused by a different frequency of men and females in individual groups.The correlation of intensity of caries with age was confirmed. Some partialresults were affected by unequal frequency of age categories.

Conclusion.
The results showed theworst dental health in the population of the modern times. The null hypothesis,that tooth decay among the individual populations from different periods is notdifferent, was rejected. The results must be interpreted with regard to thedemographic composition of the files researched.

Keywords:
dental health – younger Eneolithic –Bronze Age – Early Middle Ages – modern times


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