More accurate aging of teeth could hold the key to identifying health-compromised children in Africa

November 9, 2017, Wits University
More accurate aging of teeth could hold the key to identifying health-compromised children in Africa.
Credit: Wits University

Population-based data on human biological growth and development processes are fundamental for assessing the health status of a community. For many populations in rural Africa, birth registry and eliciting date of birth are still challenges. Data on uncompromised development and growth variation in most developing populations are surprisingly lacking, and researchers typically compare growth in the population of interest to standards that are formulated for European or US children.

Wits University anatomical science and community dentistry researchers, however, believe that more accurate aging of teeth could hold the key to identifying health-compromised on the African continent. The researchers, who are investigating dental as a more reliable gauge for assessing the age of children and juveniles in forensic and anthropological contexts, recently published a systematic review of dental development assessment methods to determine the best and most accurate means to estimate chronological age in different populations. 

According to Professor Lynne A Schepartz, Associate Professor and Head of the Biological Anthropology Division at Wits and co-author of the paper, "It is important to accurately estimate chronological age from a sample of living children in the population of interest, because this information can then be used as a benchmark for evaluating the growth of health-compromised children. Our review illustrates that there is significant population-level variation in the tempo of dental development."

Their review focused on studies investigating the predominant dental development assessment methods - the Demirjian and the Willems methods - in different populations with the aim of determining the more accurate method.  The findings conclude that the Willems method of dental age estimation provides a better and more accurate estimation of in different populations than the Demirjian method. Still, the ages of children in most populations are over-estimated using that

The findings have implications for growth assessment in general, and the use of global standards that are largely untested in African populations. The research highlights the need for -specific standards for age estimation, as their use extends beyond basic and health research.

The Wits researchers say the information from dental development may play a major role in determining many clinical decisions, including choices about treatment options and sequence of treatment in the future.

Explore further: What outcomes are associated with early preventive dental care among Medicaid-enrolled children in Alabama

More information: Temitope Ayodeji Esan et al. The Demirjian versus the Willems method for dental age estimation in different populations: A meta-analysis of published studies, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186682

Related Stories

What outcomes are associated with early preventive dental care among Medicaid-enrolled children in Alabama

February 27, 2017
Preventive dental care provided by a dentist for children before the age of 2 enrolled in Medicaid in Alabama was associated with more frequent subsequent treatment for tooth decay, more visits and more spending on dental ...

Dental age method could help refugee identity

March 4, 2014
A dental age estimation method developed by Norwegian scientists in the mid-1990s has been put to the test by a University of WA PhD candidate to see how reliable and applicable it is.

Research explores lasting effects of early preventive dental care in Medicaid-enrolled children

March 13, 2017
Research out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health suggests preventive dental care provided by a dentist for children before the age of 2 enrolled in Medicaid in Alabama may lead to more care ...

Social deprivation sits at the heart of children's oral decay

September 8, 2017
A study of 347 children in Plymouth aged between four and six years has shown that social deprivation is an indicator of increased risk of dental decay in children. However, obesity was not associated with decay in this group ...

Health prospects of children in care look worse than for anyone else

August 31, 2017
When the state gets involved in the welfare of children or young people under 18, we call them "looked after." They might live with foster parents, in a children's home, with friends or relatives, or even with their own family ...

When it comes to a child's weight in the ER, mama knows best

April 19, 2016
Parents outperform even sophisticated measurement systems in emergency departments when it comes to estimating their children's body weight, according to the results of a systematic review of the literature on pediatric weight ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover cellular messengers communicate with bacteria in the mouth

May 8, 2018
A new UCLA-led study provides clear evidence that cellular messengers in saliva may be able to regulate the growth of oral bacteria responsible for diseases, such as periodontitis and meningitis.

Drug-filled, 3-D printed dentures could fight off infections

April 25, 2018
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. denture-wearing population suffer frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth.

Bacteria boost antifungal drug resistance in severe childhood tooth decay

April 25, 2018
Early childhood caries, a form of severe tooth decay affecting toddlers and preschoolers, can set children up for a lifetime of dental and health problems. The problem can be significant enough that surgery is the only effective ...

Absence of a transcription factor halts tooth development in mid-stride

April 11, 2018
Amjad Javed, Ph.D., and University of Alabama at Birmingham colleagues have found a key role in tooth development for the transcription factor Specificity protein 7, or Sp7.

Toothpaste alone does not prevent dental erosion or hypersensitivity

March 14, 2018
The rising prevalence of dental erosion and dentin hypersensitivity has led to the emergence of more toothpastes that claim to treat these problems. While no such toothpaste existed 20 years ago, today, many such brands are ...

Study: Absence of key protein, TTP, rapidly turns young bones old

March 10, 2018
The absence of a protein critical to the control of inflammation may lead to rapid and severe bone loss, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.