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

Within population variation: postnatal dental development in the Southeastern US


1Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Human dental calcification, or the process in which teeth mineralize within the alveolar portions of the maxilla and mandible, is primarily regulated by genes and is relatively buffered against environmental influences that may otherwise impact skeletal growth and development. Though the patterning of dental development is generally the same in all humans, it is often debated to what extent the timing and tempo of dental development may vary among populations. The purpose of this research is to apply Bayesian analyses in order to assess to what extent the timing of dental development may vary between contemporary populations of the Southeastern United States.

For this study, 59 panoramic radiographs of individuals from a contemporary Florida population ranging in age from 7.7-20.4 years were reviewed. Dental development stages were scored utilizing standards devised by Moorrees et al. (1963). Statistical analyses incorporated methods in Bayesian analysis, such as transition analyses, and a cumulative probit model on the log scale ages. The timing of dental development was compared to that of a contemporary Middle Tennessee Population provided by Harris and Mckee. Results of this study indicated that 20 of the 59 cases fell within the predicted age limits, and that there is a consistent underestimation of age for the Florida population when the Middle Tennessee population is utilized as an informed prior. This difference in the timing of dental development between the contemporary US populations is attributed to within population variation, and is useful in creating accurate age estimation standards for unknown individuals.

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