Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service, Department of Scientific Computing, Florida State University, Department of Anthropology, Florida State University
Friday All day, Clinch Concourse
This study investigates the origins of the high rate of anterior dental crowding in the Early Archaic Windover population (8BR246) of Florida. The dentition of the Windover population is quite unique, exhibiting non-metric traits and wear patterns that are not common in hunter-gatherer populations. This research identifies an unusually high frequency of total dental crowding (47%) and severe crowding (25%) at Windover Pond that has not been identified in any other prehistoric hunter-gatherer society. To evaluate possible explanations for this unusual prevalence of dental crowding at Windover, this research utilizes the Little Irregularity Index (Little 1975) to examine dental crowding and its relationship to tooth size, arch size, and dental wear. The population from Windover is then compared to six Early to Middle Archaic period Florida sites.
I argue that dental crowding at Windover has a predominately environmental origin but is the product of mostly non-masticatory practices (e.g., using teeth as tools). The results of this study demonstrate that dental crowding development within Florida Archaic populations had different primary influences based on crowding severity. Mild/moderate crowding within the samples most likely represents a normal occlusal variant. Conversely, severe dental crowding is rare amongst hunter-gatherers and appears to have a predominantly environmental etiology. This study also indicates that environmental influences on crowding were gender-specific and mitigated to some extent during the aging process. These data suggest non-masticatory cultural practices alter dental occlusion differently and more radically than previously thought.