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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

ANCIENT DENTISTRY: DENTAL CARIES OR PARAMASTICATORY BEHAVIOR IN A MANDIBULAR THIRD MOLAR FROM A NEOLITHIC FUNNEL BEAKER BURIAL AT MODICE, THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Abstract

The Neolithic Funnel Beaker cemetery of Modřice, dated to 4850-4900 years before present (uncalibrated), preserves the mandibular remains of an adult, H3851, exhibiting two atypical buccal pits on a large extended cingulum of the left mandibular third molar. The individual is probably male as the mesiodistal, buccolingual, mesiolingual-distobuccal and mesiobuccal-distolingual breadths are the largest in a sample of molars from Modřice (n = 11). A high-fidelity epoxy resin dental cast of H3851 was created from a polyvinylsiloxane mold of the original Neolithic material curated at the Moravska Muzeum, Brno. Stereomicroscopy of the dental cast was performed and digital images of H3851 were consulted. All three molars are preserved on the left side. The first exhibits extreme dental wear. The second and third molars show less advanced attrition. The pits, one a large distal intrusion, the other a much smaller mesial perforation, exist on a pronounced protostylid extending beyond the protoconid as a flattened dental shelf. The buccal perforations on the left M3 differ from examples of dental caries in the published literature in that the rim presents color contrasts and differences in degree of sharpness. The largest pit exhibits a rim with a darker coloration mesially and lingually. The buccal and distal margins are lighter and present a more dulled or polished border. Dental caries are likely to form in the developmental grooves, the cementoenamel junction and interproximally where food particles can easily be trapped. Dental caries appear more often in Neolithic societies than beforehand from an increase in carbohydrates and sugars arising from an agricultural diet. However, the buccal pits on H3851 may also represent repeated use of the buccal capsule in processing resources or using the molar row as a tool. The polished surfaces of the buccal and distal pit borders may indicate some kind of paramasticatory behavior that later developed into carious lesions represented by the darker and sharper mesial and lingual borders of the largest perforation. This research points to the important role of incipient trauma creating the pathway for tooth decay to develop on convex enamel substrates prior to the modern era.

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