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Variability in dental caries prevalence between male and female foragers from the Late/Final Jomon period: Implications for dietary behavior and reproductive ecology


  • Daniel H. Temple

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28403-1220
    • Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 601 S. College RD, Wilmington, NC 28403-1220, USA
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This study documents sex differences in dental caries prevalence among Late to Final Jomon period (4000 through 2300 BP) foragers from Japan and interprets the results within behavioral, dietary, and reproductive context.


The presence/absence of carious lesions was recorded from ∼1600 Late/Final Jomon period teeth. Frequencies and mean numbers of carious teeth were compared between males and females according to age, tooth group, and region using Fisher's exact and t tests.


Significantly greater frequencies of carious molar teeth were observed in females compared to males in each age group. Few differences were observed between older and younger females as well as between females from high and low density regions. Significantly greater prevalence of cariogenic molars were, however, observed between females in Age Group 3 from a high compared to low density region. Significantly greater average numbers of carious molar teeth were found in females compared to males, with no significant differences in mean number of carious teeth between age groups.


Differences in carious teeth between the sexes likely reflect behavioral and dietary variation for males and females. Limited differences in caries prevalence and mean number of carious teeth between female age groups and regions of varying population density suggests that reproductive factors played a minor role in dental caries variation between males and females. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.