Age and sex-related topography of carious lesions and oral conditions among Prehispanic coastal Mayas Topography of carious lesions

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Andrea Cucina
Oriana Chiappa
Thelma Sierra Sosa


Objectives: The objective is to assess topographic distribution of carious lesions (crown and CEJ) by sex and age class and relate it to food intake;

Materials and methods: Sixty-eight males and 45 females aged 15 years and older from the Prehispanic Classic period Maya site of Xcambó (AD 250-700) were selected and organized into 15-30 yrs, 31-45 yrs and 46+years age classes. Caries were scored on all permanent teeth based on their location on the crown, interstitial CEJ as well as buccal and lingual CEJ.

Results: Caries affected 14.6% of the permanent teeth in males and 27.7% in females. About half of all the lesions were located at the mesial and distal CEJ edge of the teeth (50% in males and 46.6% in females), while 12.9% and 17.1% (respectively for males and females) affected the buccal and lingual CEJ edge. Multiple caries interested 19.7% of teeth in males and 24.9% in females. Last AMTL was recorded in 16.4% of sockets in males and in 27.4% in females. The overall frequencies of caries and AMTL increase with age at death, and differences by sex are statistically significant; on the contrary, interstitial CEJ, buccal and lingual CEJ and multiple caries do not follow an age-related pattern of distribution, and do not show statistically significant differences between males and females.

Discussion and conclusions: The coastal site of Xcambó shows one of the highest frequencies of caries in the region. The high socioeconomic status of the site suggests that caries were not due to a diet based on maize, but that also sugary (honey and various fruits) and starchy foods were ingested on a daily base. Cariogenic sticky foodstuff, which likely triggered caries at the buccal and lingual CEJ edges of the teeth, were ingested by all the members of the society regardless of sex and age.