The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

A fine grained but non destructive method to determine the timing of enamel hypoplasia


Dept. of Anthropology, University of Auckland

Thursday 9:45-10:00, Broadway III/IV Add to calendar

Enamel hypoplasia is a useful indicator of systemic stress experienced during childhood. The time dependent nature of enamel formation allows hypoplastic defects to be related to the age of the individual when the defect was formed and therefore when the stress event occurred. Unfortunately, accurate age determinations have only been accomplished through histological analysis of cross sectioned teeth, which is time consuming and necessitates the destruction of the teeth. However, recent research has identified a strong negative correlation between the total number of striae of Retzius in lower canines and the number of days associated with their regular occurrence, or periodicity. This relationship may allow for a tooth’s periodicity to be determined from a surface examination, allowing a more precise age estimate to established, without the need to destroy the tooth.

The research presented here has investigated this correlation in a different population in order to, firstly, see if it is present and, secondly, whether counts of perikymata in particular deciles of crown height may be able to be used to estimate periodicity, as previous research has suggested. This involved the histological analysis of cross sectioned mandibular and maxillary canines from a modern New Zealand population. Results demonstrate that the phenomenon is present in a different population and, in particular, that the number of perikymata in the 8th and 9th deciles of crown height may be associated with a canine’s periodicity. Finally, a non destructive method to estimate the timing of hypoplasia based on externally assessed periodicity is proposed.

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