An introduction to dental wear in evolutionary and biocultural contexts

James T. Watson, Christopher W. Schmidt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


This volume pulls together experts representing a range of current approaches to the study of dental wear in extant primates, hominins, and ancient humans to highlight advancements in macrowear and microwear analyses, particularly those regarding diet, extramasticatory behaviors, and tooth use via evolutionary and biocultural perspectives. As biostructures that facilitate interaction between bodily and external environments, teeth provide the first step in the digestion of food through mechanical breakdown. But by engaging in their primary function, teeth experience wear from tooth-to-tooth and tooth-food-tooth contact as well as chemical erosion. Tooth wear reflects the interaction of tooth form and use and therefore provides insight into the evolutionary history of our primate relatives and hominin ancestors; it also documents dietary nuances in modern humans as they dispersed and inhabited a great variety of geographic regions. As a complex, multifactorial process, tooth wear has garnered significant attention at both macroscopic and microscopic levels. Improvements in the understanding of chewing mechanics and dental hard tissue properties, along with recent applications of technology capable of analyzing dental microsurfaces, has led to a fluorescence in dental wear study and generated a rich and extensive literature. This volume serves to underscore the value of studying dental wear in biological anthropology and touches on some of this diversity of current research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780128155998
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Abrasion
  • Attrition
  • Diet
  • Erosion
  • Macrowear
  • Microwear
  • Tooth wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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