Dentition

Dentition not only yields information about age at the time of death but can also give researchers clues regarding the dietary habits of an individual or populations of people. Wear patterns in younger individuals may suggest that sand inadvertently mixed in with the diet. High dental attrition at younger ages suggests a diet high in carbohydrates. Well-preserved teeth with little wear and little attrition may suggest a higher-status individual. Complete dental surveys can be conducted using the VE. In the case of dental attrition, the VE can provide images of the mandibular and maxillary surfaces to document to what degree reabsorption has occurred, indicating when the tooth or teeth were lost. Additionally, horizontal growth arrest lines can be seen on permanent teeth, suggesting past systemic infectious processes. Abscesses with bone loss can be seen, suggesting that poor dental

Figure 4.27 Videoendoscopic images of various dentition features.

conditions may have contributed to the death of that individual. Besides certain diseases, cultural habits such as tooth filing and decoration can leave their mark on the teeth as well. At times, specific tooth wear patterns may suggest an occupation held by the individual; for example, a v-groove among the molars suggests the repeated actions of a weaver who pulled yarn through the mouth to form a strand. Also, early dental practices such as tooth drilling can be seen, suggesting the level of sophistication of the medical practices of the population. Figure 4.27 presents several endoscopic views of varied dentition features.

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