The Evolution of the Tooth

The mouth, like the rest of the human body, is subject to the evolutionary process. Tracing the changes in dental biology is fascinating and provides us some insight into the lives of our ancestors.

Wisdom Teeth

Humans have long had wisdom teeth, but the issue of impacted wisdom teeth is a modern phenomenon.

Due to the evolutionary process, human jaws are too short to fit all of our teeth. We no longer need to put extreme amounts of stress on our jaws—we eat mostly soft food as children—so evolution has compensated by giving us shorter jawlines, to the point where we can no longer fit all of our teeth!

Cavities

As our diets have improved, our carbohydrate and sugar consumptions have increased. Carbohydrates provide a place for bacteria to stick onto the tooth. They also provide food to the bacteria, leading to cavities becoming more prevalent.

Chewing

While humans are the dominant species, this comes at a price. Our metabolism burns fuel up to ten times faster than animals of comparable sizes. This means that converting food into energy is extremely important. Over time, humans have developed a nearly unique system of chewing as well as a complex arrangement of tooth placement and size—all towards the aim of making digestion more efficient.

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