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

Male-female oral health differences in early Chinese communities


1Anthropology, Queens College, CUNY, 2Archaeology, Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Saturday 3:45-4:00, Galleria South Add to calendar

Based on the analysis of nine skeletal collections from the Central Plains of China, this paper examines sex differences in oral health in early farming communities and how these differences changed over time from the Neolithic Yangshao to the Dynastic Period. In virtually all of the skeletal series examined, we found statistically significant male-female differences in caries frequency, antemortem tooth loss, and calculus accretion, as well as in the rate of occlusal tooth wear. Whereas frequencies of carious lesions and antemortem tooth loss were higher among females, other indicators of oral pathology were expressed more strongly in males. In dental sets from Middle and Late Yangshao, the differences in wear patterns between males and females suggest gender related differences in parafunctional tasks performed with the aid of the teeth, probably contributing to sex differences in other oral health parameters. Oral health differences between the sexes during the late Dynastic period seem to have stemmed from a somewhat different set of factors. Female sub-samples of skeletal collections from the dynastic Eastern Zhou period specifically evidenced a substantial increase in the frequency of root caries. This increase was especially marked in a collection from the elite Xiyasi cemetery, suggesting that extrinsic factors affecting the oral health of females changed considerably over time, particularly among wealthier Chinese groups.

This project was supported by PSC-CUNY Research Award #63645-0041

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