The effects of aberrant tooth wear on occlusal relationships

Adam Crane, James T. Watson, Randy Haas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Detailed investigation of dental wear can provide information about diet, food preparation, pathology, idiosyncratic behaviors, and occupational activities. The application of standard scoring approaches, however, obfuscates the wide variety of aberrant wear observable within and across populations. Dental wear begins from multiple etiologies but cascades into complex inter-connected relationships that vary across the arch and between jaws. Wear resulting from one etiology may cause changes in occlusion that affect the manifestation of other forms, thus the analysis of aberrant wear cannot be undertaken without first parsing relationships among co-occurring etiologies. While such interactions complicate problem-oriented studies of dental wear, the complex intermingling of wear types reflects the value of teeth as a site for holistic interpretations of embodiment (e.g., of subsistence and other cultural activity). Here, we develop a model of aberrant dental wear that assesses both proximate (e.g., attrition, erosion, etc.) and ultimate etiologies (i.e., behavioral vs. occlusal) through the description of wear in terms of dentition, tooth class, tooth surface, and wear morphology. The goal of this model is to apply a systematic approach to the analysis of aberrant wear, to define the varied cultural phenomena embodied in the teeth with greater clarity. After outlining the model, we consider the implications of this approach for the interpretation of aberrant wear as an embodiment of social phenomena and explore the potential of such wear as a proxy for communities of practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780128155998
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Aberrant wear
  • Communities of practice
  • Dental wear
  • Embodiment
  • Extramasticatory wear
  • Social bioarchaeology
  • Theory of practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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