Outlining a Definition of Oral Health within the Study of Human Skeletal Remains Defining Oral Health

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Marin A Pilloud
J.P Fancher


The term oral health is regularly used in bioarchaeological research to discuss a myriad of pathological conditions of the oral cavity. However, there is very little consensus on what conditions should be included in such a study, and some of the conditions are at odds with those in the clinical literature.  In this manuscript, we outline the clinical definition of oral health and develop a strategy in which bioarchaeology can address this type of research.  We argue that the terms dental disease and/or pathological conditions of the oral cavity should be used in lieu of oral health.  Various conditions that can be included in such research are outlined.  Finally, definitions, clinical etiologies, and recording schema for these conditions are discussed as relevant to bioarchaeological studies.