1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 3Department of Pathology, University of Tennessee
April 20, 2017 , Acadia
Though widely applied in bioarchaeology, dental wear has been underexplored as an age indicator in the biological anthropology of contemporary peoples, although research has been conducted on dental attrition in forensic contexts (Kim et al. 2000, Prince et al 2008, Yun et al 2007). This study examined the hypothesis that methods for age estimation based on dental wear can be adapted for a modern American population and produce accurate and useful age-range estimates for individuals in 21st-century contexts. If correct, dental attrition may be easier to apply than other age estimation methods due to the survivability of teeth, ease of ordinal scoring systems, and non-destructive nature. Methodologies following Yun et al. (2007) and Prince et al. (2008) were applied to a random sample of 583 individuals from the University of New Mexico Documented Skeletal Collection and Economides Orthodontic Cast Collection. Pearson correlations of tooth wear score and age were significant (p<0.001) for all teeth and multiple linear regression demonstrated that 50% of age estimates fell within +/-10 years of the actual age. However, comparable to many other age estimation techniques, accuracy improved for the younger age group (<45 years), with 74% of predictions within +/-10 years. This study demonstrates that there is a broadly predictive relationship between wear and age in modern Americans; this relationship merits further exploration into the impact of other cultural factors on dental wear and the impact of biological age within current American society.