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Using General Estimating Equations to Analyze Oral Health in the Moche Valley of Perú


Correspondence to: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Wagner College, 1 Campus Road, Staten Island, NY10301.



This study introduces a new method for analyzing oral health indicators and thus reconstructing diet. To this end, we examined the dental remains of 173 individuals recovered from the site of Cerro Oreja in the Moche Valley of Perú, who lived during the Salinar (400–1 BC) or Gallinazo (AD 1–200) phases. The infectious and degenerative conditions analyzed include: dental caries, dental wear, dental abscess, antemortem tooth loss and dental calculus, all of which have been used to track dietary and thus subsistence-related economic and sociopolitical changes. Data were analyzed using generalized estimating equations, an extension of generalized linear models. Significant changes in the frequency of occurrence of most dental conditions suggest that during the period of study, there was an increase in the consumption of agricultural products. However, these changes in oral health did not equally affect females and males. By the end of the Gallinazo phase, significant sex differences developed, with females more often affected by dental caries and males displaying greater mean molar wear scores. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.