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

Impact of periodontal disease on cementochronology


1Forensic Taphonomy Unit - Anthropology, Université Lille Nord de France F-59000, 2Bioarcheology Laboratory, Centre d’Etudes Paléopathologiques du Nord, 3Direction Archeologie, Comité d'agglomération du Douaisis, 4UMR 5199, PACEA, Bordeaux 1 University F-33000

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Estimating an individual’s age-at-death is important regarding post-mortem identification as well as paleodemography. With substantial development in the past ten years of cementochronology analyses, a certain number of questions have arisen regarding the impact of oral pathologies which may artificially reduce or increase cementum apposition.

The objective of this study is to observe the impact of the periodontal disease on cementum and on the method reliability in order to improve the accuracy for determining individual age-at-death. The study concerns 41 teeth presenting different degrees of bone destruction, from 18 individuals affected by an untreated periodontal disease.

No correlation between cementum thickness and civil age (p>0.05, r<0.5) throughout the root was observed. Since several other studies (Solheim 1990, Stein and Corcoran, 1994) observed a correlation between cementum thickness and civil age on healthy individual, it would seem that periodontal pathologies do have a direct influence on cementum thickness. Regarding the degree of alveolysis, periodontal disease have only limited effects on cementum annulations count in the middle third of the root (r=0,92, p=5,1.10-14 between estimated and civil age) whereas in the lower third, the number of increments is considerably increased. This hypercementosis would compensate bone destruction and loss of attachment apparatus. These data suggest that cementum could continue its growth at a lower rate despite bone destruction due to periodontal disease.

Cementochronology can be thus applied to teeth presenting a damaged periodontium, by observing the middle third of the root.

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