The levels of tooth wear were surveyed in 50 pre-contact Maori skulls (23 of them female) from New Zealand. In addition to a generalized tooth wear index, we evaluated occlusal wear for erosion and abrasion. Occlusal microwear was also investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images and, finally, the occlusal slope was determined at the level of the first molar teeth. The general pattern of wear was one of severe occlusal reduction with no significant differences between males and females. Both silicone impressions and SEM views confirmed a large component (30%) of erosion. While most individuals had flat wear planes, 33% of males and 44% of females showed reversed Monson's curves. Accentuated Monson's curves were found in 23.8% of males. While these results confirm early studies of the excessive wear experienced by pre-contact Maori, our study shows for the first time that erosion played a significant role in the dental wear of these people.
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