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How Have Teeth Evolved Over Time?

July 28, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_antoon @ 7:34 pm
An archaeologist excavating a human ancestor’s skull

Despite what you might think, modern teeth haven’t always looked or felt as they do now. They only took their current form after many years of evolution. Humanity’s ancestors thus had different grins from what people have now. All that said, you may wonder just how teeth have evolved over time. Well, your local Plano dentist can give you a better idea. Here’s a brief history of human tooth development and some ways to protect modern teeth.

Then: Long Jaws, Large Teeth

Humans’ early ancestors first emerged approximately seven million years ago. However, these individuals didn’t have teeth like our own.

Really, the early ancestors’ looks were similar to those of chimps. For one thing, their jaws were long and led to projecting faces. They also had parallel tooth rows with large teeth, including pointed canines and prominent molars. Despite these features, though, such pearly whites held little enamel. This fact likely stems from how the ancestors mainly ate fruits and soft buds of trees and shrubs.

Now: Short Jaws, Small Teeth

As millennia passed, humans’ direct ancestors saw shifts in their food and environment. (They expanded their diet to include other animals, etc.) These changes eventually led to the kind of teeth seen today, especially third molars or “wisdom teeth.”

More modern grins started appearing around 250,000 years ago. At that time, our direct ancestors had very short jaws and pointed chins for added strength. Those led to smaller teeth with a thicker enamel layer arranged in a parabolic arc. They also resulted in a vertical (rather than projecting) face.

How to Keep Modern Teeth Safe

Of course, it isn’t just human teeth that evolved. Humanity’s oral care methods and knowledge have also developed. That being the case, stick to the following tips:

  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Your smile could house many harmful bacteria If you aren’t careful. To keep that from happening, brush twice daily, floss once daily, and rinse often with mouthwash.
  • Eat a Mouth-Healthy Diet – If you eat many high-sugar foods, you’ll raise your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, try to have meals with more mouth-healthy vitamins and minerals. These might include lean proteins, dairy products, and leafy greens.
  • Avoid Bad Oral Habits – To the extent possible, avoid bad oral habits in the future. Biting on hard objects will chip your teeth, and smoking can cause severe gum disease.
  • See Your Dentist Often – If you don’t already, attend dental checkups and cleanings every six months. These visits will prevent severe oral problems and make dental emergencies less likely.

There is much that isn’t known about how teeth have evolved over time; however, you can still appreciate them and their developments by keeping your smile as healthy as possible in the future!

About the Practice

Antoon Family Dental is based in Plano, TX. Led by Dr. Sam Antoon, our practice offers top-tier and comprehensive dentistry for all ages. To that end, we perform preventive, cosmetic, and restorative services, as well as emergency dental work. Our office also provides dental sedation for patients who suffer from intense anxiety. For more information or to book a visit, you can reach us on our website or by phone at (972)-640-6229.

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