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

Periodontal Health and Post-reproductive Tooth Loss among Mogollon Women


School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

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Recent research has identified the importance of considering hormonal fluctuations over the life-course of women with regard to periodontal health and tooth loss. THe primary goal of this study was to test the relationship between periodontal health, age, and sex in a prehistoric skeletal sample to identify if the influence of life-long hormonal fluctuations could be extrapolated from dental remains. Depth of periodontal resorption (from the CEJ to the alveolar crest) was measured on posterior teeth from two prehistoric samples from west-central Arizona (the Mogollon archaeological culture) to identify if periodontal disease impacted females greater than males in the samples. The results demonstrate that post-reproductive females have significantly higher resorption rates than males at both sites and that these differences increase significantly over time among the Mogollon. This study utilizes a life-history approach to identify that women experienced poorer periodontal health than men and suggest that it may be associated with an underlying biological phenomenon that deserves further consideration (hormonal fluctuations) in future studies of prehistoric oral health. The results further indicate that temporal differences in periodontal health may have been exacerbated by external environmental (non-physiological) factors such as social tension and stress within these communities.

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