Gradients of occlusal wear in hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009 Mar;138(3):247-54. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20922.


Occlusal wear was recorded in maxillary teeth from three North American late Archaic (3385 +/- 365 cal BC) hunter-gatherer sites (n = 306) and late Anasazi-early Zuni agricultural sites ( approximately 1300 AD) (n = 87). Comparisons were undertaken using descriptive and inferential statistics to determine differences between these groups, and along the maxillary tooth row. The hunter-gatherers had a significantly greater percentage of occlusal wear than the agriculturalists. For both hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists, occlusal wear was greatest on the central incisors and first molars. The third molars had the least amount of wear. It was inferred from these results that the hunter-gatherers had a more abrasive diet, and different daily task activities compared to the agriculturalists. One further finding was that wear patterns on anterior and posterior teeth are influenced by the order that teeth erupt into the jaw, as well as diet and behavior.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture / history*
  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Clothing / history
  • Dental Occlusion*
  • Diet
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • North America
  • Tooth / anatomy & histology*
  • Young Adult