Sex differences in age-related bone loss and antemortem tooth loss in East-Central Arizona (AD 1200–1450)

Rebecca V. Mountain, Jordan A. Wilson, Cait B. McPherson, Robert M. Blew, James T. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous archaeological research on dental health in the New World has documented significant sex differences in antemortem tooth loss (AMTL), with a much higher rate of AMTL in females versus males, particularly during the transition to agriculture. While AMTL can be caused by multiple factors, including periodontal disease, attrition, trauma and cultural influences, sex differences are often attributed to the impact of female reproductive biology on oral health. Clinical research on osteoporosis has documented a significant relationship between AMTL and age-related bone loss, which disproportionately affects women. However, this relationship has not been systematically investigated in prehistoric populations. This study aims to address this issue by investigating the relationship between sex, AMTL and age-related bone loss in an archaeological sample from East-Central Arizona. AMTL, dental caries and radial and femoral cortical and trabecular bone mineral density (BMD) were measured in individuals from Point of Pines Pueblo, Arizona (AD 1200–1450). Our results revealed that while there was no statistically significant difference in AMTL between males and females in this sample, there were notable sex differences in the relationship between AMTL, caries, age and BMD. There was a significant association between caries, age and AMTL in females, but not in males. Conversely, while age had a significant effect on caries in males, there was no corresponding relationship in females. Cortical BMD had a moderate effect on AMTL in females, comparable to the effect of age, although this did not reach statistical significance. There was no significant effect of BMD on AMTL in males. The results suggest that biocultural processes differentially affected oral health in males and females at Point of Pines Pueblo, and that age-related cortical bone loss potentially impacted AMTL in females in this population, but further research is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • antemortem tooth loss
  • bone loss
  • bone mineral density
  • caries
  • oral health
  • women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

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