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Formation of the permanent dentition in Arikara Indians Timing differences that affect dental age assessments.

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Formation of the Permanent Dentition in Arikara Indians: Timing
Differences That Affect Dental Age Assessments
Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State Uniuersity,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803 (0.W 0.)and Department ofAnthropology,
University of Tennessee, Knoxuille, Tennessee (R.L.J.)
Arikara Indians, White standards, Dental ages
This report concerns one problem encountered with application of American white dental formation standards to age assessment of subadults of archaeological context. Dental ages for eight mandibular permanent
teeth and maxillary central and lateral incisors of Arikara Indian immature
skeletons were determined according to degree of crown or root mineralization.
Ages assigned to the various teeth of the same individual were compared. They
showed similarities as well as patterned differences. First premolar, second
premolar, and mandibular incisor ages closely approximated one another. In
relation to this complex, dental ages for maxillary incisors and mandibular
second molars were older by 0.5 to 1.1 years. Developmental ages assigned to
individuals on the basis of third molars showed relative advancement by more
than 2 years. The systematic occurrence of these observations reflects more
than just individual variability; it shows the presence of population differences
in tooth-formation timing. Timing differences complicate assessment of dental
ages needed for growth or demographic studies.
Dental ages of preadults of forensic science
or archaeological context may be determined
by examining the degree of dental calcification. Dental calcification standards generally used are those of Moorrees et al. (19631,
although others are available (Anderson et
al., 1976; Demirjian et al., 1973; Gleiser and
Hunt, 1955; Nolla, 1960).The Moorrees et al.
(1963)research provided norms detailing the
formation of permanent dentitions of North
American white children of the middle-socioeconomic group.
Application of these standards to groups
other than the population for which the
charts were designed is a significant factor
that introduces possible error “[In] another
population, the children may pass through
these stages of dental development in the
same sequences . . . but consistently earlier
or later” (Moorrees et al., 1963:1500). Tooth
calcification standards for other populations
are generally not available. Also of note is
evidence that certain teeth emerge at slightly
different ages in different populations or racial groups (Bean, 1914; Dahlberg and Me-
0 1983 ALAN R. LISS, INC
negaz-Bock, 1958; Eveleth, 1966; Friedlaender and Bailit, 1969; Hrdlicka, 1908;
Mayhall et al., 1977, 1978; Moorrees, 1957;
Suk, 1919).
Dental eruption schedules of American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut populations show
differences when contrasted with normative
data for whites (Dahlberg and Menegaz-Bock,
1958; Garn and Moorrees, 1951; Hrdlicka,
1908; Mayhall et al., 1977, 1978; Moorrees,
1957; Steggerda and Hill, 1942). Dahlberg
and Menegaz-Bock (1958)have reported that
Pima Indian children are relatively advanced in eruption of the posterior teeth but
have later eruption of the anterior teeth.
Others similarly provide evidence that Indian and Aleut posterior teeth erupt earlier
(Garn and Moorrees, 1951; Moorrees, 1957;
Steggerda and Hill, 1942).
This research evaluated the application of
the Moorrees et al. (1963) standards to archaeological collections using a n Arikara InReceived June 28, 1982; accepted April 21, 1983
dian skeletal sample. Our objective was to
show how age assessments based on differing
teeth can in fact vary. This variation was
demonstrated by determining dental ages for
each tooth and then comparing within individual values. The principle applied was as
follows: The standards allow a dental age to
be determined for each tooth according to the
degree of crown or root formation. An age
determined for one tooth should, on average,
be similar to ages derived for other teeth if
developmental schedules parallel the pattern
described in whites. If, relative to this population, certain teeth displayed age advancement or retardation, pairwise contrasts of
the ages assigned should reveal systematic
T A B L E I. Tooth-formation stages and corresponding
Initial cusp formation
Coalescence of cusps
Cusp outline complete
Crown 112 complete
Crown 314 complete
Crown complete
Initial root formation
Initial cleft formation
Rooth length 114
Root length 112
Rooth length 314
Root length complete
Apex 112 closed
Apical closure complete
‘From Moorrees et al. (1963).
The skeletal collections analyzed in this
report represent Arikara Indian populations
of South Dakota during the time span A.D.
1600-1835. The archaeological sites included
are the following: Four Bear (39DW2), Larson (39WW2), Leavenworth (39C09), Mobridge (39WW11, Rygh (39CA41, Sully (39SL4),
and Swan Creek (39WW7). Sources that may
be consulted for information about these
sites, Arikara history, settlement, or subsistence patterns are Bass et al. (19711, Holder
(19701, Hurt (1957,19691, Hurt et al. (19621,
Krause (19721, Lehmer (19711, and Lehmer
and Jones (1968).
Periapical dental x-rays (generally Kodak
size DF42) were taken for subadults to allow
dental maturity scores to be obtained. Ratings for loose teeth recovered from damaged
mandibles were scored by visual inspection.
Standards for two maxillary (I1,12)and eight
mandibular (I1-M3) permanent teeth were
applied. Moorrees et al. (1963) defined 13 or
14 formation stages for the permanent teeth,
depending on whether they are single-rooted
teeth or molars (Table 1).The reliability of
distinguishing betweeen two stages of crown
or root development was enhanced by double
determination for many specimens on separate occasions. All scores were obtained by
Owsley. Differences that occurred never exceeded one stage. Scores were transformed
into dental ages for analysis. Tooth-specific
mean ages (sexes pooled) relating to each
stage of formation (given in Moorrees et al.,
1963; Figs. 3-6) were assigned. Pooling was
necessary since subadults cannot be sexed on
a reliable basis. Sexual dimorphism is present in the ages at which the permanent teeth
attain various stages of mineralization (Bailit
and Hunt, 1964; Demirjian and Levesque,
1980; Fanning, 1961; Garn et al., 1958; Moorrees et al., 1963; Nola, 1960; Samoka and
Demirjian, 1971; Thompson et al., 1975).This
uncontrolled source of variation should not
radically affect results.
First and second premolars were used as
reference points. Pairwise contrasts were
completed by comparing the age assigned to
each tooth with the premolar ages. This
choice was based on the following: (1) Premolar developmental periods overlap substantially with all permanent teeth; (2) sexrelated calcification timing differences are
less than for mandibular canines (Demirjian
and Levesque, 1980; Fanning, 1961; Moorrees et al., 1963; Nolla, 1960; Thompson et
al., 1975);(3)the Moorrees et al. (1963)standards are most complete for the posterior dentition. Ages were reported for final stages of
incisor crown development and for root development, but not for the initial stages.
Limited comparisons were also completed using the molars (MI and Ma, Mz with M3).
Mean differences were tested for significance
using a paired t test program (Helwig and
Council, 1979).
Table 2 presents for each paired contrast
the observed overlap in developmental
stages, sample sizes, resulting positive or
negative mean differences, and corresponding paired t values. The majority of tests
revealed differences that achieved statistical
significance a t the 0.01 level or better. Several differences were statistically significant
TABLE 2. Tooth pair contrasts, deuelopmental stages shared in common, mean differences,
and paired t values
I' - P,
I' - P2
12 - P1
I2 - Pz
11 -PI
I1 - P z
12 - P]
12 - p2
c - Pz
P, -P,
PI - M1
P2 - MI
Pi - Mz
P2 - Mz
P i - M3
P2 - M3
M1- M2
M2 - M:3
Developmental stages
._ A
Cr, - A w
Cr, - AjlL
Cr, - Ak,$
RIA- Ath
CrllA- AIlA
Cr., Crch- Ajh
Cj - Rv2
Cj - Rih
Rj Cli- A,
c,,,- Alh
cc, - A,
ly CSI 3 1
C,, - Atpi
Cj - R:%
c,, - Rc
Cj - R:,
Cr:, - R E
Cr:, - R:,
- Rlh
Ci -Ash
Cj - A ,
Ci - A>h
Cr, - AyA
Ri Cco - A ~ A
C," - Alh
C,,, - Rw
C,, - RY,
* *
- 7.84 :k
4.84 1: *X:
8.412:1: "
17.10"1: "
15,88;k:k *
*P < 0.05.
**P < 0.01..
**.XP < 0.001.
"'Not significant.
( < 0.25 years). Mandibular incisor ages, for
example, showed no appreciable differences
from corresponding premolar ages. The first
and second premolar test revealed consistency in ages assigned to them.
Minor differences were generally of little
consequence in the analysis of forensic or
archaeological cases. Of note, however, were
differences of greater magnitude. Maxillary
incisor ages were 0.5 to 1.1years advanced
relative to both premolars. Mandibular canines were assigned younger ages by 0.2-0.6
years as were the first molars. Second molars
were ahead of the premolars by 0.6 to 0.8
years. Third molars were advanced by more
than 2.0-2.3 years. This directional trend
was corroborated by comparison of dental
ages of first and second, and second and third
molars. Distal molars were assigned older
Accurate assessment of chronological ages
of preadult skeletal remains is important in
many fields of investigation, including medicolegal and skeletal biology research. Whenever possible, ages are determined by examination of the dentition with usual reference
to standards for white children. Normative
data are not available for most other populations. This lack of information represents a
potential source of error when standards for
one population are, out of necessity, applied
to another (Merchant and Ubelaker, 1977).
This research has defined one problem encountered with application of the Moorrees
et al. (1963) standards to Indian children.
Ages assigned to different teeth of the same
individual often vary. As a result, the task of
skeleton age determination is complicated
because of differing dental age assessments
for the same subadult. Aging a n Arikara
child by the third molars, for instance, on
average results in a n age assignment older
by more than 2 years than a n estimate from
the premolars or mandibular incisors. This
difference is large for certain types of studies
(e.g., long bone growth) that are normally
based on yearly increments.
The Arikara pattern of variation was determined by means of within individual comparisons. Application to archaeological samples was permissible because knowledge of
chronological ages was not required. The
Moorrees et al. (1963) standards simply provided a baseline for analysis by describing
rates and timing of development for Ameri-
can whites. Resulting nonrandom age assessment differences presumably reflect population variation in tooth calcification schedules. If these standards were applied to another American white series, between tooth
differences might occur, due to variation
among groups in relative calcification rates.
But the differences within whites should be
less than when the standards are applied to
nonwhite groups. Application to a nonwhite
sample produces patterns such as the one
observed. The developmental timing of specific teeth appeared advanced or delayed relative to the others, as older or younger ages
were assigned. Of particular note were the
older ages given to posterior molars. Such
results seem compatible with previous studies of living children that document advanced eruption timing in American Indians
or other nonwhite populations for second and
third molars (Dahlberg and Menegaz-Bock,
1958;Fanning, 1962; Friedlaender and Bailit,
In summary, we have reported on a developmental process that varies in its timing
relative to American whites. Pairwise contrasts of dental ages for various teeth revealed systematic differences. Some of the
differences were sufficiently large that they
could complicate the process of age assessment. Under these circumstances, a practical
solution toward achieving consistency in age
determinations would be to emphasize observations for selected subsets of teeth. We, for
example, place greatest emphasis on premolar ratings in ongoing demographic and
growth studies. At the very least, it is important to be aware of the types of differences
that exist.
Special thanks are given to Drs. William
Bass and Douglas Ubelaker for permission
to examine skeletal material recovered under their direction. Excavation of the Plains
skeletal material was made possible by
grants from the National Science Foundation
(GS 837, GS 1653, GS 2717) and the National
Geographic Society (699, 912). Data recovery
was supported by grants from the Southern
Regional Education Board and the National
Science Foundation (BNS-8102650). Valuable assistance was provided by Dr. P. Willey,
Cleone Hawkinson, and Steve Symes. Dr.
Reuben Pelot kindly made available his dental x-ray facilities.
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dentition, timina, affects, differences, formation, dental, indian, arikara, age, assessment, permanent
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