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Dental caries enamel composition and subsistence among prehistoric Amerindians of Ohio.

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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 71:95-102 (1986)
Dental Caries, Enamel Composition, and Subsistence Among
Prehistoric Amerindians of Ohio
KIM N. SCHNEIDER
Department of Anthropology, The Wichita State Uniuersity, Wichita, Kansas
67208
KEY WORDS
Trace elements, Acquired dental pathology,
Correspondence analysis
ABSTRACT
Six populations of prehistoric Amerindians from Ohio are
sampled to establish the relationship of enamel composition and dental caries
experience. The populations used included groups practicing hunting-gathering-fishing and maize horticulture, and they represent a t least two major
cultural traditions, the Late Archaic/Glacial Kame (1000-500 BC) and the Fort
Ancient and Sandusky Bay Traditions (AD) 1200-1600). Characterization of
enamel composition is achieved using scanning electron microscopy energydispersive X-ray analysis. Thirteen elements present are quantified, and they
are analyzed with respect to each population’s subsistence base using correspondence analysis. Evaluations of cariogenic and cariostatic effects of elements are made on the basis of caries frequency comparisons among the
populations. Results indicate that zinc, copper, iron, nickel, and calcium-phosphorus ratio distinguish populations exhibiting high, moderate, and low caries
frequency as well as discriminate hunter-gatherers from maize horticulturalists.
The study of dental disease among prehistoric human populations has become a n important focus of paleoepidemiological
research (Rose, 1977; Pfeiffer, 1979; Cook and
Buikstra, 1979; Sciulli, 1978; and many others). Generally, these studies have documented the frequency of dental caries,
abscesses, premortem tooth loss, and periodontal disease among prehistoric samples,
but they have not associated these pathological conditions with dietary, soil, or compositional parameters. Epidemiological studies
of extant populations have long suggested
that caries frequency is associated with soil
and water sources of particular elements
(Hercus, 1925; Dunning, 1953; Nichols and
McNall, 1957; Durfor and Becker, 1962).
Flourine has received enormous attention (for
a recent review, see Hurny, 1978), but other
elements known to be present in dental
enamel have yielded equivocal results. Curzon and Cutress (1983) have summarized the
current status of our understanding, and,
clearly, more basic investigative research is
needed to elucidate cariostatic or cariogenic
effects for many elements.
01986 ALAN R. LISS. INC
Acquired dental pathologies are the result
of complex processes including factors such
as the presence of oral bacteria, plaque, carbohydrates, and enamel solubility. In that
enamel is composed of carbonate hydroxyapatite, it is a naturally accomodating structure and can be altered by the inclusion of a
wide variety of ions. These substitutions may
alter the crystal’s size or behavior. Hence,
variations, in enamel composition may explain, to some degree, variation in susceptibility to carious lesions between individuals
or populations. Additionally since the inclusion of intrusive ions depends on bioavailability during enamel formation, their
presence or absence in enamel may produce
a nutritional history for a n individual or a
nutritional profile for a population.
Elemental intake is via a soil/water-plant/
animal-human food chain. Food sources are
recognized as providing the largest source of
elements in human nutrition (Pike and
Brown, 1975).Plant foods are limited in their
Received, July 14, 1985; revised February 20, 1986 accepted
February 26,1986.
96
K.N. SCHNEIDER
contribution by their ability to extract nutrients and soil-derived elements, whereas
fish and animal resources are affected by both
the quality of plant andlor animal food eaten
and the organism’s ability to store or eliminate nutrients. Human intervention may
compromise the elemental composition of
foods eaten via storage, processing, and cooking. Although the food chain is complex, general patterns of food use among human
populations should be distinguishable if they
depend on significantly different resources.
Carbohydrates are recognized as important
etiological factors with respect to both balanced human nutrition and the expression of
dental caries. High levels of carbohydrate
provide important sources of energy in many
nonindustrialized societies (Guthrie, 1979),
and their presence in the oral cavity provides
acidogenic bacteria in dental plaque with fermentable substrates. The disolution of
enamel by bacterial byproducts thus is enhanced by the presence of sugars and
starches (Cox, 1952). Additionally, many of
these diets are characterized by a lack of
“detergent” foods requiring extensive mastication and aiding in stimulating salivary
flow and oral clearance. Plaque formation
can increase, thereby providing a permeable
tooth coating for bacterial acids.
Examination of dental caries and dental
enamel composition may address at least two
issues of paleoepidemiological interest. First,
associations of particular elements and dental health status may substantiate their proposed cariogenic or cariostatic action. Second,
profiles of elemental differences might allow
independent tests among archaeologically
defined subsistence strategies. The application of such profiles may allow inferences
regarding subsistence pattern even when archaeological preservation of food remains is
poor or absent. It is important to stress that
this approach does not endeavor to reconstruct prehistoric diets but rather attempts
to test the utility of compositional analysis
in identifying similarities and differences between populations practicing different subsistence strategies.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Six populations of prehistoric Amerindians
from Ohio are used in the study (Fig. 1).
Chronologically the earliest site sampled is
Williams Cemetery (33Wo7a1, located approximately 12.5 km from Toledo in Wood
County, Ohio. The site is a large cremation
cemetery consisting of 18 separate burial features representing over 850 individuals
(Schneider and Sciulli, unpublished data).
The site also has yielded at last 75 noncremated individuals, and it is from this
subgroup that the reseach sample is drawn.
The site has been described and included in
a number of recent investigations (Stothers,
1973; 1979; Sciulli et al., 1982, 1983, 1984)
and has been dated radiometrically from
multiple samples at 850 45 years BC. The
population represented at Williams Cemetery is thought to have been composed of
nomadic, small groups who exploited seasonally variable resources by hunting, gathering and fishing the riverine or lacustrine
areas of northwestern Ohio.
Three samples are included from the early
Fort Ancient Tradition (AD 950-1250). The
State Line site (33Ha58) is located on the
Ohio-Indianaborder, 1.5 km north of the Ohio
River. The presence of charred maize, nuts,
seeds, and deer bones indicates that these
people were at least rudimentary horticulturalists (Wheelersburg, 1982). The Turpin
site (33HA19) is located on the east bank of
the Little Miami River, 2 km north of its
confluence with the Ohio River. The site has
a Fort Ancient component, which has been
dated radiometrically at AD 1175 f 150 years
mraun, 19821, and large quantities of maize
were found in association (Perzigian, personal communication).The Anderson Village
site (33Wa4) is located on the east bank of
the Little Miami River in Washington Township, Ohio. The site is designated as the typesite for the Anderson phase of Fort Ancient
and has been well investigated (Essenpreis,
1978; Griffin, 1966; Barber, 1978). These
three populations represent sedentary communities focused on maize horticulture while
continuing to exploit local resources.
Pearson Village (33Sa9) is located 4 km
southwest of Sandusky Bay. The area of the
site from which the research sample is taken
has been dated radiometrically at AD 1410 f
65 years (Bowen, personal communication).
With approximately 75% of the site excavated, more than 400 individual burials have
been recovered. Faunal and botanical remains suggest a mixed subsistence base dependent on deer, elk, fish, maize, beans, and
nuts.
The most recent site included is the Indian
Hills site (33W04). The site has been radiocarbon dated at AD 1610 100 years (Stothers, 1973)and is located less than 1km north
*
*
DENTAL CARIES A N D ENAMEL COMPOSITION
97
U
Fig. 1. Location of sites included in this study.
of Williams Cemetery. The site represents a
large, stockaded village whose population depended on locally available fauna and tended
gardens of both native and tropically domesticated cultigens (Stothers and Pratt, 1981).
The breadth of both subsistence bases and
distance among the sites allows spatial as
well as temporal changes in enamel compositions and caries frequencies to be examined. The location of these sites reflects an
important geological boundary in the state.
The northern sites are located in an area
that was subjected to glaciation, whereas the
southern sites are in an unglaciated region.
Associated soil profiles would be relevant
data to correlate to enamel composition, particularly if diagenetic exchange was significant (Lambert et al., 19791, but these were
not available. The role of soil variability,
however, can be assessed indirectly. If local
soil composition contributes to the compositional differences among these samples, the
northern sites (which are represented by both
pre- and post horticulturalists) should cluster
together, and the southern sites should be
separated from them.
Caries determination was made by the author for all samples except State Line and
Turpin sites. Caries data for Turpin were
provided by D.J. Braun (1982) and were unavailable for the State Line site. Caries were
recorded for available succedaneous teeth,
and determination was limited to macroscopic lesions. A carious lesion was recorded
if any surface of the tooth had a macroscopic
necrotic defect. Each tooth was examined under strong light and lesions were detected
with the aid of a dental explorer. "he incidence of pre- and postmortem tooth loss and
abscesses also was recorded when alveolar
bone was present. Caries frequency is expressed as the number of caries observed as
a percent of the total number of each tooth
and tooth type. Frequencies were grouped by
location-maxillary anterior and posterior
mandibular anterior and posterior after initial tests of homogeneity. Table 1 was entered as a matrix for correspondenceanalysis,
the result of which was then compared to the
display produced based on elemental
composition.
Although it is recognized that the method-
98
K.N. SCHNEIDER
TABLE 1. Caries frequency and sample size per category
Maxillary ant.
Caries
n
Maxillary post.
Caries
n
Mandibular ant.
Caries
n
Mandibular post.
Caries
n
Total
caries
N
Williams
Cemetery
Turpin'
Anderson
Village
Indian
Hills
Pearson
Village'
3
224
33
239
13
352
9
123
48
662
1
263
78
224
50
244
28
190
105
662
0
190
16
259
15
262
5
143
30
761
6
259
109
231
46
307
30
206
86
687
10
956
236
953
124
1,165
72
662
269
2,772
'Braun, 198216.
'Inludes all teeth collected through the 1983 excavation
TABLE 2. Canine samples used in elemental composition study
Sample
Side
(r/l)
Age range
(years)
Williams Cemetery
Turpin
State Line
Anderson Village
Pearson Village
Indian Hills
10112
710
315
414
15/15
3/7
9-21
10-19
10-19
12-21
10-21
9-19
ology used has limitations, for purposes of
comparability to the Turpin data, no corrections were made for pre- or postmortem tooth
loss (Hardwick, 1960) or multiple carious lesions on individual teeth.
Numerous studies have detailed the composition of bone (e.g., Sillen, 1981; Aufderheide et al., 1985; Lambert et al., 1982, 1983).
Despite the common crystallographic structure of bone and enamel, significant difference preclude their compositional comparison.
For example, turnover rates (Bryant and
Loutit, 1964), mineralized content (Bhaskar,
19801, and processes of elemental uptake
(Vaughan, 1970) are different in these tissues. For the purposes of this study, bone
samples from these populations were not
included.
Mandibular succedaneous canines were selected for compositional analysis (Table 2).
This tooth was chosen for a number of reasons. First, the tooth has a long developmental period (6-7 years) before the enamel
is completed (Bhaskar, 19801, allowing restricted sampling. Second, the mandibular
sex
F
-
M
Unknown
-
22
-
-
8
2
2
1
24
9
4
-
-
7
6
canine is morphologically less complex on
the buccal surface than other teeth, so the
tooth requires little alteration for energy-dispersive X-ray analysis.
Only canines with unworn, disease-free,
complete enamel surfaces were included.
They were photographed, cast, measured,
and cleaned with distilled water. The teeth
then were polished with a series of silicon
grit papers and diamond paste on a Struers
DP-U2 polishing device to produce planar
buccal surfaces. The specimens were cut a t
the cementoenamel junction, and the polished crowns were mounted on copper easels
and aluminum stubs and carbon coated.
An S4-10 Cambridge scanning electron microscope (SEM) was used for characterization
of enamel composition. The SEM is equipped
with a n X-ray detector and multichannel
analyzer, which records elements present in
the structure by collecting, amplifying, and
storing incoming X-ray pulses. Thirteen elements were designated as regions of interest.
The rationale for this particular suite of elements rests on their presence in dental
DENTAL CARIES AND ENAMEL COMPOSITION
enamel, detectability, and nutritional role.
The elements recorded included major essential elements (Ca, P), trace essential elements (Mg, Mo, Cu, Mn, Se,Zn, Fe, Ni), trace
(inactive) nonessential elements (Sr, Al) and
trace (toxic) nonessential elements (Pb).
A small pilot investigation was made before the entire sample of canines was analyzed. Five mandibular canines not
associated with a specific burial were used
(three from Williams Cemetery and two from
Pearson Village). A series of polishes corresponding to the depths of 50, 100, 200, 300,
and 500 p was made sequentially on each
tooth, and the compositional analysis was
performed. Each depth-associated data set
was run through the complete data correction analysis to determine if particular elements are associated with increasing
distance from the surface of the tooth, potentially reflecting diagenesis.
Data from depths of less than 200 p appeared most stable among aliquots of each
tooth, and the 100-200 p depth was chosen
for the study. Additionally, A1 was eliminated as an element of interest for the ensuing study because it was significantly correlated t o superficial layers and is considered
to reflect postdepositional contamination.
Elemental peak, associated background,
and nonassociated background were collected for three separate analyses per tooth.
The working distance of the sample to the
detector was 11 mm, with the polished surface angled at 38"-40" inclination. The instrument was set at 20 kV saturation, and a
40 sec real-time interval was used for each of
the three runs per tooth.
Data smoothing and background correction
were achieved using the BEDAMAC computer program (Foreman and Awadalla,
1978). The BEDAMAC printout includes the
regression coefficients of the observed-to-expected peak and background values. R2 values of less than 0.95 were considered to
reflect the presence of spectral artifacts and
poor elemental peak data quality, and such
aliquots were eliminated from the ensuing
analysis. This resulted in the deletion of 21
aliquots from the initial 255 analyses (8.24%).
Conversion to weight percent per element as
compared to standards was done using the
Colby (1971) MAGIC IV program. Mean
weight percents of each element were converted to parts per million using SAS software (SAS Institute, 1982). These data were
then entered as a matrix for correspondence
99
analysis using SPEAKEASY 111 software
(Cohen and Peiper, 1979). Correspondence
analysis allows the information contained in
a matrix to be retained and displayed in lowvector space (Greenacre, 1984), in effect allowing all the samples and elements to be
displayed simultaneously.
RESULTS
Figure 2 is the result of the correspondence
analysis using values of all elements collected. The first two principal axes of inertia
explain 54.98% and 23.95% of the variance
present, respectively. Clearly, the huntinggathering-fishing sample, Williams Cemetery, is separated from the other samples.
Zinc, Cu, and Fe, and to a lesser degree Mn,
Mo, and Pb, contribute to its position. The
horticultural samples are more dispersed
than would be expected if their subsistence
bases are the same. Rather, it appears that
these groups are, in some cases, as different
from one another as they are from Williams
Cemetery. The position of Turpin is of particular interest; it is not closely associated with
any other sample.
Major essential elements (Ca, P) appear to
make a major contribution to the pattern of
variation presented in Figure 2. The calciumphosphorus ratios of these samples range
from 1.50 (Turpin) to 1.90 (State Line). The
ratio value is 1.62 in Williams Cemetery,
1.66 in Anderson Village, 1.57 in Indian
Hills, and 1.67 in Pearson Village. The correspondence display's first axis appears to
disperse populations of high and low ratios.
The second axis delineates the samples geographically. Southwestern sites (Anderson
Village, State Line, and Turpin) have positive coordinates with respect to the origin,
and northwestern sites (Indian Hills, Pearson Village, and Williams Cemetery) have
negative second axis coordinates. This observation suggests that geographic location and
associated local conditions play important
roles in discriminating these groups.
Figure 3 represents the graphic results of
correspondence analysis using dental caries
frequency (Table 1).The first and second axes
explain 48.32% and 35.80%of the variance,
respectively. The sample with the lowest caries frequency is the hunting-gathering-fishing population, Williams Cemetery. Similarly, the sample with the highest caries frequency, Turpin, is separated clearly from all
other samples. Comparing the two correspon-
100
K.N. SCHNEIDER
mTU
SL.
Tixi?
Fig. 2. Correspondence display of all elements and populations sampled. IH, Indian Hills;
WC, Williams Cemetery; PE, Pearson Village; AN, Anderson Village; SL, State Line; TU,
Turpin; all elements are represented by their chemical symbol.
d ml
Fig. 3. Correspondence analysis display of caries frequency by quadrant using Table 1data
matrix of five populations sampled. xant, Maxillary anterior; xpost, maxillary posterior; dant,
mandibular anterior; dpost, mandibular posterior.
DENTAL CARIES AND ENAMEL COMPOSITION
dence analysis displays, the relative positions of the archaeological sites in each
independent test are very similar.
101
tested using alternative analytic approaches
such as Cl2/CI3 ratios of skeletal samples
from the site. The conclusion derived from
these data is that, apparently, differential
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
use of horticultural products was a local pheThe results presented indicate significant nomenon and not one prescribed by the larger
variation in enamel composition correspond- cultural network.
ing to different caries experience among the
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
populations examined. This suggests that
particular elements (Zn, Cu, and Fe) have a
I would like to thank the following individcariostatic effect and that others (especially uals and institutions for allowing me to study
Nil have a cariogenic effect when present in materials in their care: Paul W. Sciulli and
dental enamel. This observation corroborates Jonathan Bowen (The Ohio State Univercurrent evaluations of these elements' effects sity), David Stothers (University of Toledo),
when present in dental enamel (Curzon and Martha Potter-Otto (Ohio Historical Center),
Cutress, 1983).
and Anthony J. Perzigian (University of CinThe shift from a hunting-gathering-fishing cinnati). "hanks are also due Weldon Padsubsistence base to one focused on horticul- gett I11for the illustrations, the Instructional
ture not only increased caries by introducing and Research Computing Center at the Ohio
readily fermentable carbohydrate foodstuffs State University for providing computing
(which could have increased bacterial de- funds, and the two reviewers who offered
struction of dental enamel) but also affected constructive comments. A portion of this reacquired dental pathology expression by al- search was supported by a Presidential Feltering the availability of elements present lowship from the Ohio State University and
during enamel calcification. This appears to a University Sponsored Research Grant from
be expressed particularly strongly by the The Wichita State University.
various calcium-phosphorus ratios observed
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