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

Influential variables on osseous tooth socket healing time


Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

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Tooth loss is an indicator of various pathological and physiological processes or caused intentionally (ablation) or unintentionally (accidental trauma). The soft tissue healing process has been studied but the time required for bone to fill a socket and its macroscopic appearance throughout this process is unclear. A schedule to estimate time since tooth loss from osseous socket fullness was previously derived by the author from a radiographic series of modern dental patients. This paper reports on the application of those data to three dry bone assemblages (764 sockets) from medieval Germany and England to discern additional criteria.

Time since tooth loss was estimated using data from the radiographic study and took into consideration whether the socket was ossifying or ossified (by fullness), sex, socket location, and presence of neighboring teeth. New criteria tested were dental health status, presence of interdental ridges, and internal socket appearance to determine whether these factors significantly affected duration of socket healing.

The results indicated that total socket ossification is either accelerated or delayed by up to three weeks by mesial and distal ridge presence and descriptive appearance of the buccal, lingual, and apical sections of the internal socket. Further study is required to determine whether these are correlative or causative relationships. These data, in conjunction with those derived from the radiographic study, may be reliably applied to healing or healed sockets in osseous remains to estimate how long before death a permanent human tooth was lost or removed.

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