4.5 Recording oral pathology

Figure 6: (PDF) Recording form for oral pathology download the PDF form (20.4kb)
Figure 7: Sheep/goat mandible displaying abnormal wear of P4 and absent M1 (132kb)
Figure 8: (PDF) Example of completed oral pathology recording form for sheep/goat mandible seen in Fig. 7 download the PDF form (18.6kb)
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A system was designed to allow the pathology of each tooth to be recorded separately (see figure 6 to view the downloadable recording form and figures 7 and 8 for a completed example), thus allowing potential variation across an individual mandible, as well as variation between individual teeth to be recorded. The tooth wear stage should be noted in order to provide some basis for identifying those teeth, where the absence of pathological conditions, such as linear enamel hypoplasia, might be due to extreme wear, or where wear might reflect missing or malformed teeth elsewhere within the dentition. It also allows the analysis of whether a particular pathology varies in relation to age and therefore whether it is valid to compare prevalence in populations with different age structures.

It is recommended that calculus and alveolar recession should be recorded by stage (e.g. slight, moderate and severe) as detailed by Brothwell (1981). This scheme was devised to permit comparison of severity in one individual mandible, as well as between individuals, something which might provide dietary information, for example.

Abscess of the alveolus or pulp cavity may result from a number of infections, some of which may be caused by injury, eruption anomalies, or periodontal disease. However, the gross effects are likely to produce similar conditions in the bone (Levitan 1985, 45). The severity of cavities due to either abscesses or caries should be noted, as was the type of caries by location upon the tooth, for example whether they are situated upon the occlusal or lingual surface. For abscesses, the stages of severity were based upon those defined by Levitan (1985, 45): stage 1 - low grade infection, stage 2 - medium grade infection, and stage 3 - high grade infection, with each stage demonstrating variation in morphology.

Supernumerary teeth (although not strictly a pathological condition) should be recorded on a presence/absence basis, as should absent teeth. Any signs of tooth rotation should also be noted, including the direction and degree of rotation.

Malocclusion may be defined as 'the incorrect positioning of one or more teeth within the jaws, either relative to adjacent teeth in the same jaw or, more particularly, in terms of the nature of the 'fit' between upper and lower dentitions' (Brothwell 1991, 27). Brothwell (1991) defined a series of measurements to record such abnormalities: the angles between the median of the cranium and the second, third and fourth premolars and the first molar. It was decided to include these in the general recording methodology, both because of the need for further investigation in this area as well as the potential importance of malpositioning in the identification of domestication.

Some pathological phenomena relate to stress events occurring during the development of an organism. Examples of these are Harris Lines and Linear Enamel Hypoplasia, which represent a deficiency in the growth of a calcified tissue (Dobney and Ervynck 2000, 597). Following methodologies already in existence (Dobney and Ervynck 1998), the type of enamel hypoplasia (i.e. whether it was pit or linear) should be recorded, as well as the general severity, and the distance between the cemento-enamel junction and the lowest part of the line.


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Last updated: Wednesday 8th November 2006