Odontogenic abscesses in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) of Cayo Santiago

Hong Li, Wenjing Luo, Anna Feng, Michelle L. Tang, Terry B. Kensler, Elizabeth Maldonado, Octavio A. Gonzalez, Matthew J. Kessler, Paul C. Dechow, Jeffrey L. Ebersole, Qian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: Odontogenic abscesses are one of the most common dental diseases causing maxillofacial skeletal lesions. They affect the individual's ability to maintain the dental structures necessary to obtain adequate nutrition for survival and reproduction. In this study, the prevalence and pattern of odontogenic abscesses in relation to age, sex, matriline, and living periods were investigated in adult rhesus macaque skeletons of the free-ranging colony on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Materials and Methods: The skulls used for this study were from the skeletons of 752 adult rhesus macaques, aged 8–31 years, and born between 1951 and 2000. They came from 66 matrilines ranging from 1 to 88 individuals. Fistulae or skeletal lesions caused by odontogenic abscesses drainage, carious lesions, tooth fractures, tooth loss, and alveolar resorption were evaluated visually. Results: Seventy-two specimens (9.57%) had odontogenic abscesses of varying severity. Males had a significantly higher prevalence than females. The prevalence of odontogenic abscesses in several matrilines was significantly higher than in the population as a whole. Animals born between 1950 and 1965 tended to have a higher prevalence of odontogenic abscesses than those born in later periods. Discussion: These results suggest that oral pathologies, such as dental and periodontal abscesses in rhesus macaques are fairly common, which may indicate familial effects interwoven with ecological and social factors. The closeness of the rhesus and human genomes allows insights to understand of the epidemiology of these diseases in the human population. Further assessment of the role played by environmental and familial factors on rhesus oral health and disease are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-457
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • diachronic trend
  • epidemiology
  • matriline
  • oral pathology
  • periodontitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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