Correlation of Chronological Age with Tooth Wear in Archaeological Populations
Knowing that attrition and abrasion are most common wear processes of dental hard tissue, which occurs along with aging, the aim of this paper is to determine the correlation between dental age and loss of dental hard tissue on archeological bone residues. For the purpose of this research, the collection of skeletal remains of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) was used. The study includes 392 samples of the remains of both upper and lower jaws from 7 Croatian archaeological sites, whereas 4 of them from continental and 3 of them from coastal Croatia. The remains of bones belong to two different archeological periods, late antiquity and early Middle Ages. Visa Metrix computer system was used on digital photography of occlusal tooth surfaces to measure total exposed area of dental hard tissue and surface of dental hard tissues damaged by attrition and abrasion. Data provided were defined in sq. cm, and as such were inserted in excel table and processed statistically. In the statistical analysis of data, Shapiro-Wilk test, Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal-Wallis test were used. There is a statistically significant correlation between the total teeth number and estimated chronological age (χ² = 46.3, ƞ² = 0.23, p <0.001). Total number of teeth negatively correlates with chronological age (r = -0.41, p <0.001). The total surface area of the teeth available decreases with the estimated chronological age (r = -0.39, p <0.001), while the proportion (%) of the total damaged area of the teeth in relation to the total available area increases with the estimated chronological age (r = 0.622, P <0.001). The proportion of damaged surface in overall teeth surface increases with the estimated chronological age (r = 0.686; p <0.001) both in males and females (r = 0.534; p <0.001). The lifelong loss of hard tooth tissue positively correlates with chronological age in both sexes despite of historical period. The loss of hard tooth tissue due to attrition and abrasive changes, and with usage of Vista Metrix Inc. computer system can now be used to determine age in forensic dentistry as well as forensic anthropology and archeology.