I’ve been a bit quiet in this blog recently as I have moved house so there were of things to sort out . However , I have still been volunteering and gave made great progress on the Stack Collection of deciduous teeth.
I have now finished photographing and recording the specimens and I can honestly say my ability to identify teeth has greatly improved. Teeth were not always a strong point for me, mainly because we did not have a lot of practical experience with them at university. However, by using the common osteological text books (including Simon Hillson’s Dental Anthropology, Tim White’s Human Osteology and ‘The Skeleton Keys’ by Schwartz) and drawing on my own memory I was able to identify the teeth quite quickly. By the time I came to the of the specimens I felt reassured of my ability and therefore went back to the first specimen to check them. This was a good idea as I did make some corrections and was able to clarify some of the teeth I was unsure about.
As I have finished with the actual specimens I have moved on to recording the information written in a catalogue of dentition, which was created by the collector. This is enabling me to check some of the information I have already obtained from associated cards as well as adding comments from the Pathologist’s Report. So far these have include cardiac defects, defects associated with the Central Nervous System and pre-eclampsia. I recognised some of the conditions as they appeared in the previous project such as spina bifida and intra-cranial haemorrhage. There were a few defects I did not recognise but a quick Internet search revealed the condition.
I will not be in next week as I am switching my work days round so I can attend the proffered papers meeting for the Society for the Study of Human Biology. I am very much looking forward to going to this meeting as there are going to be some very interesting papers being presented. This includes one by Dr Liversidge who has previously used the collection I am currently working so I intend to introduce myself to her.
Apparently my last post about volunteering at the College didn’t publish so I’m combining weeks 43 and 44 into one post. For both weeks I carried out the same task as I am still working on the Stack Collection, which contains small vial of deciduous teeth. I definitely getting better at identifying the teeth types and moving the teeth into suitable positions to be photographed.This meant I was able to get through a few more specimens than previous weeks, which I hope to build on further over the next few weeks.
This project has really boosted my confidence in my identification skills of decudious teeth. At University I didn’t get many opportunities to develope this skills, plus when I did have to identify teeth they usually came with the jaw so it was much easier. I am now hoping to get my own baby teeth from my mum to identify them myself. However, I’m going to have two identical sets of teeth to sort as I have a twin sister! I’m going to see if it’s possible to distinguish between them based on colour and shape – if I can find the teeth and sort them I’ll make sure I create a post documenting them!
This week at the College I started photographing and recording the deciduous teeth in the current collection. This is an extremely delicate task as the teeth are so small and fragile. I had to carefully line the teeth up, arranged by tooth type, and take a photograph using a 1cm scale bar for reference.
It has been a little while since organising and arranging teeth so I had to refer to some textbooks to be certain. I attempted to arrange the teeth by type (incisor, canine and molar) and where possible I identified whether the teeth came from the maxilla (upper jaw) or mandible (lower jaw). This wasn’t too difficult for the incisors but I couldn’t always identify the molars and it was very hard to work out which jaw the canines came from. The difficulty of identifying theses teeth was a result of their size and age. The individuals I was working with were fetal or neo-natal and therefore only a small amount of dental development had occurred. This means that there is little to no development of the roots resulting in the crowns of the teeth being present, for example the canines only consist of a small triangle of enamel. The image below in the first pictures gives you an idea of the stage of development I am dealing with.
The stages of deciduous tooth development. Image taken from here
By the end of this project I am going to be very well experienced in handling, tiny specimens as well as increasing my knowledge of deciduous teeth.
I had a shorter day at the College this week because last Saturday I was hit in the head with a hockey ball so at the moment I’m a little prone to small headaches. I had a very impressive black eye, which I’ve never had before, that has gone a wonderful shade of various colours! However, it looks a lot worse that in was, the most annoying thing was that I was hit about 5 minutes into the game. Anyway I had another good day at the College, black eye and all!
This week I carried on with the digitalisation of the cards associated with the collection I am working with at the moment. These cards are for each set of deciduous teeth that are in the collection and include information about the owner of the teeth. This is very sensitive data and some even have the pathologies that the individual had. I’m therefore learning even more medical terms and conditions which is very interesting, there are even a few that I have recognised from medial drama such as Grey’s Anatomy (I’m a late comer to the show but I’m totally hooked! Thankfully I have Amazon Prime and watch multiple episodes at a time).
Next week I might take a break from the cards and start on the teeth.