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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Grimoud, A.M., Roberts, C.A., Boimond, A., Sevin, A., Lucas, S. & Passarius, O. (2012). Topographical presentation of dental wear as arches in a French mediaeval population. Archives of Oral Biology 57(6): 841-852.

Author(s) from Durham


The diversity of notation systems for recording dental characteristics and the means used to display them makes comparisons and interdisciplinary collaboration difficult.


The aim of the present study is to propose the use of a method employed by experts worldwide but which may be new to bioarchaeologists. Since 1971 we have used the International Dental Federation (FDI) system, which provides the location of dental characteristics and the morphotype of each tooth at the same time, thus avoiding the need to specify upper or lower, and right or left to state the tooth position in the dental arch.


To demonstrate the use of the FDI system, we applied it to the study of dental wear in a mediaeval Mediterranean skeletal sample from France consisting of 58 paired mandibles and maxillae belonging to 29 female and 29 male adults and divided into two age groups: young or aged 20–30 years, and mature or aged over 30 years. Tooth wear was recorded according to Brabant's index, which consists of four levels and four directions. Data were displayed in the form of curves, according to the FDI and taking age and sex into account.


Analysis of the results shows a tooth wear distribution that is significantly different between upper and lower horizontal and oblique directions in females and males, and between upper and lower horizontal and oblique heavy wear in females and males. Moreover, a significantly asymmetrical horizontal and oblique distribution of wear was found in the young adult group. Thus, the use of criteria defined by precise reference points for recording data, and displaying results in the form of curves, makes comparison using superimposition easy and reliable and permits a more objective study of tooth wear.


Furthermore, using a notation system that is employed worldwide helps to build multidisciplinary projects, and offers the possibility of comparing large amounts of data easily, which should provide enhanced data for bioarchaeology in the future.