4 Signs of Dental Evolution in Your Child's Mouth

4 Signs of Dental Evolution in Your Child's Mouth
Posted on 04/29/2021

It's pretty safe to say that over the past few thousand years, human diets have changed greatly. While ancestors chewed on raw meat and bones, we are busy preparing a perfectly grilled cheeseburger. The human body was made to adapt to the changing conditions and each new generation is born with different traits. Many signs of evolution are found right in the mouth. When you take your child to the dentist, exams and routine cleanings can determine some of the unique qualities that have evolved over time. Read ahead to find out what to expect and what to specifically ask the dentist to look for during the next visit.

1. Wisdom Teeth

One of the easiest signs to spot of evolution in the mouth is the wisdom teeth. As your child enters their early teen years, wisdom teeth may start popping up on x-rays. In some cases, the wisdom teeth will impact the other teeth and in other cases the wisdom teeth will remain deep inside the gums. And then there are some children who develop no wisdom teeth.

Also known as the third molar, wisdom teeth were essential for ancestors who often chewed on nuts, raw meat, and tree roots. As the adult set of back molars wore down, the wisdom teeth would grow in and act as a new replacement so a person could enjoy foods. As society changed and cooking soft foods became more prevalent, the wisdom tooth became obsolete.

The adult molars that grow in place didn't need replacement and wisdom teeth became a redundant and disruptive part of the mouth. Some children now show signs of the evolution and will never develop wisdom teeth. Every couple of years, x-rays can confirm the lack of wisdom teeth.

A lack of the wisdom teeth is a benefit and nothing that will bring on any concerns in the future. In many cases, the same traits could also get passed onto to future generations, especially if both parents lack wisdom teeth.

2. Hypodontia

While a lack of wisdom teeth is harmless, some children's mouths take the missing tooth evolution one step too far. A condition known as hypodontia occurs when a child has missing primary or adult teeth. Their mouth simply lacks the typical full thirty-two teeth found in most mouths.

Just like the wisdom teeth, scientists speculate that hypodontia occurs because the modern diet does not need as many teeth as our ancestors did. The result is often one more gaps in the child's smile. The size of the gap will depend on the treatment. For primary teeth, some dentists may expect the bigger teeth to grow in and fill the spaces.

A dentist may also refer a child to an orthodontist for treatment options. Braces can help adjust a mouth to lessen the sight of the gaps. When a child fully grows, they also have the option for dental implants to fill in larger gaps for back molars or incisors.

3. Crowded Mouth

As the human body evolved and the industrial revolution changed society forever, there is one distinct difference in modern humans and ancestors. The jaw size. Our jaw size has only gotten smaller over time. Thanks to forks, knives, and other cutlery, we no longer need massive jaws to shove food into our mouth. Cooked food that gets chopped up to bits do not need a large jaw to chew through. Even though the jaw has gotten smaller, the amount of teeth has relatively stayed the same. For many kids, the evolutionary changes can result in a crowded mouth. Teeth may push into each other, overlap, and create mouth problems, especially as adult teeth grow in.

A dentist will follow the condition of your child's mouth. Braces will separate the teeth and realign the jaw so not everything is so crowded. In some situations, a child could have a tooth pulled so the rest of the teeth have room to spread out along the jaw.

4. Thicker Enamel

Plants and meat were a staple of the human diet many generations ago, and then slowly carbohydrates and sugar became the norm. Besides creating thousands of new meal options, one of the biggest impacts the food choices had were on the mouth. As sugars and carbs break down in the mouth, the acids and bacteria naturally eat away at a tooth's enamel.

When enamel wears down, tooth decay begins and cavities form. Many generations ago, tooth enamel was a pretty thin layer, but the major change in diet and lifestyle has led to much thicker enamel. While daily tooth care is still important, thicker enamel offers a lot of extra protection and cavity prevention. As we continue to evolve, new generations are born with stronger teeth and extra layers of protection. A dentist cannot determine the enamel thickness through a traditional routine, but preventative care and exams will showcase any soft spots or places where enamel has weakened.

Schedule an appointment for your child with us at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents. We can perform a full exam on your child's mouth and inform you about any of the unique evolutionary features your child may have.



Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
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  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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