The present study investigates the affect agriculture had on the prevalence of the following four dental diseases or dental health issues: malocclusion, dental caries, antemortem tooth loss (AMTL), and dental abscesses. Each disease is presently associated with a type of wear: maloccusion with abrasive-type wear and the remaining three diseases, with erosive-type wear. Through analysis of previous studies, the dental wear patterns of preagricultural, early agricultural, and agricultural populations are compared and assessed in terms of general dental health and the cultural factors associated with their prevalence. Geographically, the study concentrates on the New World. The samples are drawing from prehistoric native populations of the Midwest with consideration of other North American and non-North American groups, when necessary. The primary research questions are: (1) What changes occurred among dentition after the transition from pregriculture to agriculture, and (2) has human dental health changed significantly since this transition in terms of identifiable wear patterns? Ultimately, the present study finds an increase in the prevalence of malocclusion and dental caries within the early agricultural and agricultural populations. The cultivation of maize for dietary purposes and the use of ceramic technologies in the processing of foodstuffs appear to cause this increase. The rates of AMTL and dental abscesses are generally maintained as subsistence strategies change. A theoretical model that lends itself to evolutionary medicine defines the framework of analyses used in this examination. Consequently, considerable attention is placed on cultural transitions and changes in health status occurring simultaneous to these shifts.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas


Sociology and Anthropology


Archaeological Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology


dental health, evolutionary medicine, subsistence

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2012 Claire Riggs Miller