A Sweet Tooth for Dental Anthropology

Ashleigh Freeman

For my last semester, I chose to do a practicum with Dr. Gooding. I was lucky enough to get a practicum that was aligned with research I had done previously in an osteology field school in Greece and that I found interesting. My overall goal was to create a collection of teeth that can be used to teach various classes in the department. Also, I wanted to create a couple of extra sets for Dr. Smith to take with her to Greece. For classes like the Human Skeleton and Lab in Physical Anthropology, having hands-on access to teeth can help students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of teeth.

I worked throughout the semester, learning as much as I could about human dentition through books and articles. I then used that knowledge to create collections of wear patterns in each type of teeth. I created displays of show teeth (which is the perfect example of that tooth) and funky teeth (which contained caries, fillings, and grills). Writing the final paper at the end of the project shows how much you learn over the semester, conferring a sense of expertise in that area of anthropology. After sorting through approximately 1,700 teeth, I had all the sets ready, so I built little displays for the classroom. I hope my practicum can help someone down the road feel more confident when they learn about teeth!