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Keywords:

  • dental anthropology;
  • cervical area;
  • tooth flexure;
  • tooth wear

Abstract

Noncarious tooth lesions (NCTL) are frequent findings in contemporary dental practices. Unlike other dental and periodontal diseases, NCTL have not been studied in an anthropological context. The purpose of the present study was to compare the prevalence of NCTL in three archaeological samples from the Copper Age and Middle Ages and in subjects examined in three dental practices. Both archaeological samples and dental-practice subjects were from southern France. In the archaeological sample group, no NCTL were detected in 3,927 teeth from 259 individuals. In the dental-practice group, prevalence rates were in agreement with current epidemiological data. Our data also suggest that prevalence of NCTL increases with age and is higher in females. Premolars were the most affected tooth type. Occurrence of NCTL has long been attributed to toothbrushing and to erosion by intrinsic and extrinsic acids. More recently, occlusal stress associated with tooth flexure has been implicated. The reasons underlying the total absence of NCTL in archaeological samples are discussed. The most likely explanations involve differences in lifestyle, diet, and dental condition. Am J Phys Anthropol 121:000–000, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.