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Arch Oral Biol. 2014 Feb;59(2):207-16. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2013.11.012. Epub 2013 Dec 1.

The frequency and distribution of caries among the Iron Age population (about 2200 years BP) buried in the Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang.

Author information

1
Department of Orthodontics, State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, West China Stomatology Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, PR China.
2
Department of Orthodontics, School of Stomatology, The Fourth Military Medical University, 145 West Changle Road, Xi'an 710032, PR China.
3
Department of Science and Foreign Language, Qingdao Radio and TV University, No. 16, Dalian Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266012, PR China.
4
Department of Health Statistics, School of Military Preventive Medicine, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710032, PR China.
5
Department of Dentistry, First People's Hospital of Wujiang, Medical School of Nantong University, Suzhou 215200, PR China.
6
Department of Orthodontics, State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, West China Stomatology Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, PR China. Electronic address: zhzhao@scu.edu.cn.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence, distribution, and intensity of dental caries in the Iron Age population of northern China in order to increase knowledge about the type of food, dietary habit, and social stratification in this Iron Age people.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The samples analyzed were dental remains of 1548 permanent teeth from 69 male individuals unearthed from the Qin archaeological site of Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum in Lintong (northern China). The sex and the age-at-death of the samples were estimated.

RESULTS:

Overall frequency of antemortem tooth loss in the samples was 0.8%. The proportion of individuals with at least one carious tooth was 65.2%, and the frequency of carious lesions was 9.4%, both showing a trend to rise as age increased. Data obtained on dental caries and antemortem tooth loss provided a corrected rate of 9.5% of teeth with caries. The most frequent carious lesions were occlusal lesions (2.6%), followed by interproximal (2.5%) and buccal/lingual lesions (1.0%). Tooth type analysis showed that molars had the highest percentage of caries (18.6%), followed by premolars (4.5%), canines (3.0%), and incisors (3.0%). The total SRCI was 1.6, increasing with age.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings indicate that dental caries may be related, at least in part, to the subsistence and diet of this Iron Age population.

KEYWORDS:

Archaeology; China; Dental caries; Epidemiology; Iron Age

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