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

Testing inter-teeth variability in adult individual age-at-death estimate using cementochronology (TCA)


1UMR 7268 Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Bioculturelle, Aix-Marseille Université, Bd Pierre Dramard, 13344 Marseille cedex 15, France, 2UMR 5199-PACEA, Avenue des Facultés, 33405 Talence Cedex, France

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The study of intra-individual variability of acellular cementum apposition is a major issue in the estimation of age-at-death using cementochronology.

Since the literature is scarce on the subject we extracted 51 modern teeth from 15 of known-age patients. We manually counted the acellular cementum increments on five cross-sections from the middle third root of each tooth. Age estimation was then calculated by summing the number of lines to the average age of dental eruption.

Our results showed some variability between counts within tooth, especially on premolars. The intra-individual variability of cementum deposition has been highlighted by comparing age estimates obtained for each tooth of one individual which is not surprising considering problems already described in the literature on this issue. Once premolars were excluded, the variation between teeth of an individual dropped to 0 to 5 years in 73% of cases.

In conclusion, the intra-individual and intra-dental variability of cementum have to continue to be studied and quantified to obtain the most accurate and reliable estimation of age-at-death and potentially predict which region of interest should be considered prior to sectioning and counting.

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