Why Do We Have Crooked Teeth? 🦷

3 min read

Morning Chompers!

Take a look at this ancient human skull:

Surprisingly great teeth, right?

Not bad for being 36,000 years old.

It actually turns out, most ancient human skulls we’ve found also have pretty perfect teeth.

Despite never having braces.

Never using toothpaste.

And never going for a checkup at the local dental practice.

In fact, having crooked teeth actually seems to be a very recent thing.

So, what happened?

Well, we don't know for sure, but we do have a pretty good theory.

Imagine our 36,000-year-old friend from earlier when he was alive.

He was almost definitely a hunter gatherer.

Meaning he ate stuff like this:

Basically, a lot of natural stuff.

And a lot of chewy stuff.

From an early age, hunter gatherers had to REALLY use their teeth and jaws to chew and grind this stuff down to make it digestible.

The extent to which they “processed” their food (basically making it easier to eat) was just cooking it over an open flame.

Fast forward to about 1000 years ago, and now everybody's farming stuff.

Eating soft foods like bread, cheeses, oatmeal and simple vegetables.

(Much less chewy stuff)

But then the industrial revolution came along, and due to fancy technological innovations, it dramatically increased the consumption of very soft, processed foods.

All the foods you know and love in the modern day:

There's a whole lot more than this, but I can't be bothered to think of any more.

In a VERY short period of time, many human mouths were relieved of most of their chewing, grinding, and pulverizing duties.

And coincidentally… this was also around the time when tooth crookedness appears to have become much more common.

The theory goes that ancient humans had significantly larger jaws.

But since humans shifted rather quickly from tough chewy foods to much softer foods, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in jawbone size.

But the thing is… teeth stayed roughly the same size.

Meaning as jawbones got smaller teeth had to fit in a smaller space.

So they end up getting jostled around into crooked positions just to fit in the mouth.

This can cause a whole lot of tooth problems, which is probably why we need to go to the dentist all the time.

This wacky theory is actually supported by a number of studies.

One being a 2004 study on small rodent-like mammals called Hyraxes.

Where the researchers raised one group on raw and dried foods and another on soft, cooked foods.

They observed that the Hyraxes raised on cooked food had roughly 10% less growth in facial areas involving chewing compared to the other group.

Another study compared people from across the globe who grew up on a traditional diet, in comparison to people who grew up on a modern diet.

Here's one of the locations they studied:

Source: Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation

This whole thing kinda echos the age old saying:

“If you don't use it, you lose it”

Stay Cute,
Reece, Henry & Dylan 🌈

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