The Evolution of Teeth

Most of the information which has been collected on the evolution of our species has been achieved through fossil records. The femur fossils found give us a rough estimation of size of our early ancestors and the cranium tell us brain size and possible capacity. The teeth can provide us with an age, diet, and disclose many other interesting facets to the early life of hominids.
We can see from the shape of our teeth today that we come from a long line of omnivores (those who eat both vegetables and meat). This is made even more prevalent by our forward facing eyes and our development of bipedal motion.

If you go back in time to about 100 million years ago, all of our ancestor’s teeth, including their wisdom teeth, fit comfortably in the jaw structure. This was important to early man because their teeth were the key to catching and dismembering prey. These extra teeth could have been used as replacements if some of the back molars were damaged.

Remember, at this time the hominid diet was anything that may have been edible. Berries, leaves, raw meat, and roots were all fair game. As early man went on to develop larger brains, which led us to learn how to cook food, the harder foods were softened by the cooking process. More nutrients were then absorbed through food, allowing our brains to grow yet again. This means that less tooth enamel was worn down and we reach a point where wisdom teeth are no longer required, yet they remain sometimes becoming impacted in the process.

There is also a point in our history where our jaws got shorter, this pushed the wisdom teeth into the jaw. Keep in mind that this was a slow transition which took place over millions of years. In 2004, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania theorized that a mutation led hominids to have shorter jaws which allowed for the brain to grow. Their theory is intriguing but could not be conclusively proven.

We are now at a point in our history where changes and technological advancements are moving faster than the process of evolution is ready to move. All of the processed “food-like products” which are consumed on a daily basis have no natural barrier to keep them from doing damage to us on a mental, physical, and spiritual level.

It is perhaps for this reason that it is now more important than ever to take proper care of our teeth. We are also lucky enough to live in a time when we CAN take care of our teeth. 1,000, 500, 100, and even 50 years ago, dentistry was a dim light of what the field has become today. Rudimentary methods and philosophies were so prevalent that the dentists of this bygone era did not even know what they did not know. For more information on modern dental treatments visit:

Unless humanity eventually evolves to develop tartar resistant teeth, multiple sets of teeth, or enamel that is damage proof, preventative care is the best option. Regular visits to the dentist, brushing and flossing three times per day, and choosing teeth healthy snacks is the best way to make sure your smile doesn’t look like something out of the dark ages. To get answers to more dental questions visit:

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015

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