The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

High incidence of supernumerary and ectopic teeth from Nuvakwewtaqa (Chavez Pass), AZ


1School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, 2School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

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Supernumerary and ectopic teeth are seldom reported in clinical contexts and described less frequently from archaeological settings. The etiology of these abnormalities is not well understood. Ongoing gross and radiographic examination of the looted and commingled skeletal remains from the Nuvakwewtaqa (Chavez Pass) site (1250-1400AD) in northern central Arizona has revealed multiple dental arcades (n=9) with nonmolar supernumerary and/or ectopic teeth. This poster presents these cases and considers contextual factors that potentially contributed to the observed incidence of dental anomalies from this site.

We have only analyzed only relatively complete maxillary (n=69) and mandibular (n=92) arcades. All supernumerary maxillary teeth (n=5) are mesiodens, while all mandibular supernumerary teeth are accessory premolars (n=2). All observed ectopic teeth involve a mesiodens (n=2) or maxillary canine (n=2). While normally erupted supernumerary teeth are generally asymptomatic clinically, ectopic teeth are sometimes associated with chronic conditions (e.g. head and sinus aches) that may affect quality of life but are infrequently associated with mortality. Interestingly, all observed arcades with ectopic teeth lack fully developed third molars; thus, we consider possible evidence of pathology associated with ectopic teeth.

A limited effective population size could explain the high occurrence of the dental anomalies. However, naturally occurring environmental toxins (e.g. high arsenic content in the nearby Verde River) along with cultural practices (e.g. presence of lead in Gallina pigment) could have caused developmental perturbations that produced the abnormal traits. This study contributes new data relevant to understanding the etiology of rare morphological variations of clinical and anthropological interest.

This research was supported through the Coconino National Forest Repatriation Project, USDA Forest Service Southwest Region for the ASU Chavez Pass Project, School of Human Evolution & Social Change.

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