People of the Samurai Class Kept their Antemortem Lost Teeth

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Joichi Oyamada
Yoshikazu Kitagawa
Yoshitaka Manabe
Atsushi Rokutanda


Three hundred and fifty-seven skeletons were excavated from the old site of the Sougenji temple in Kitakyushu City, Fuknoka Prefecture, Japan, in 1992. These skeletons were remains of the samurai class and had been buried during the seventeenth or eighteenth century (Edo period). To clarify samurai dental habits, we examined their teeth and alveolar condition. Alveoli could be detected at least partly in 141 skeletons. Detailed examination revealed that 22 bodies had been buried with their own antemortem lost teeth. As most of the Sougenji people were buried in vessels, the likelihood that the belongings of one person would mix with those of another was small. The roots of three teeth were artificially shaved, indicating that those were likely used as artificial teeth. However, most of the antemortem lost teeth lacked artifical shaved tracks. Although the meaning behind the preservation of antemortem lost teeth remains obscure, the present data indicate that oral health care appears to have been a part of the Sougenji samurai culture. This is the first such report.