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A History of the Human Mouth: How Teeth Have Evolved

The human anatomy, like all other species, evolves and changes over time. As science and technology continue to progress, scientists can uncover more and more about the genetic and biological history of the human body. For biologists, dentists, and archaeologists alike, the history of the human mouth is of interest.

Have you ever sat through a single tooth implant, cavity filling, or extraction and thought: why can’t my teeth just be perfect? Turns out, scientists are puzzled by this, too. Other toothed species, from dogs to lions, often have perfectly aligned teeth and jaws. Though we are not so biologically different from animals, most humans have at least some form of orthodontic misalignment. For example, wisdom tooth problems are common– in many people, rear molars (wisdom teeth) don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally.

A few recent archaeological and biological studies have helped explain why human teeth aren’t as straight as animals. First, humans today have much smaller teeth and jaws than people who lived 25,000 years ago. In pre-agricultural contexts, human jawbones and teeth were big, especially incisor and canine teeth. Interestingly, humans from the eras before agriculture also had straighter teeth because they fit more naturally in the mouth and jaw.

Today, indigenous groups that live lives more like ancient humans also have better teeth– a study of the Hadza foragers in Tanzania, for example, found that their mouths had more teeth, their jaws more space, and they all had an ideal “tip-to-tip” bite between the upper and lower front teeth. There is an explanation for these differences: bones that experience greater pressure grow stronger and larger. People with tougher, plant-and-meat diets experience greater jaw strain, which helps their jawbones grow to make space for all those teeth.

This is not to say that we should abandon our current dental practices in hopes of straighter smiles– one study showed that Inuit and Australian aboriginals’ teeth were worn down much earlier in life. Teeth on traditional diets may be neat and straight, but they last no longer than other human teeth. Even if you switched to an all-natural diet, you could lose one of your pearly whites and require a single tooth implant to have it back.

Although our jaws don’t grow as big as they used to, we can still trace other parts of our dental anatomy to the habits of our human ancestors. For example, many believe that not all human ancestors had bicuspids and incisors– those only developed when groups that previously gathered plants to eat shifted to animal-based diets as they roamed or as their environment changed.

In conclusion, our mouths reflect our ancestor’s constantly changing omnivorous past. Though our teeth last longer than they used to, thanks to dental hygiene, many of us still must go through different types of oral surgery procedures to get straight smiles. From single tooth implants to jaw reconstruction, we go out of our way to re-create what our ancestors had naturally. Isn’t that fascinating?

Exploring the Mouth: What Is the Purpose of Molars?

Some of our favorite activities, like eating and speaking, are made possible by our teeth. Despite their importance and the daily habits, we go through to ensure they remain healthy and strong, we don’t always think about why we really have them.

Each person can have up to 12 molars in total. This number may vary if tooth extraction procedures were involved. There are two main types of molars: premolars, or bicuspids, and wisdom teeth. Our premolars are our regular molars, which are the first molars to come in when we’re around 12 years old.

Without molars, chewing would be a lot more difficult. Because molars are flat and larger than our other teeth, they make it easier for us to chew, especially when it comes to tough foods. Otherwise, we would have only our incisors, which are thin and flat-bottomed. So, when you find yourself thinking about chewing your favorite foods, say a silent “thank you” to your molars.

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, and they’re not necessary. Experts believe our ancestors needed wisdom teeth to handle chewing the rough, hard foods they used to consume. Now that our diets have changed, we no longer need these third molars. In fact, many people don’t even have room for them in their mouths and must undergo a wisdom tooth procedure to remove them — about five million have wisdom tooth procedures each year.

Unfortunately, because molars are so far back in the mouth, they can be more difficult to keep clean. If they become too damaged from lack of cleaning, an experienced oral surgeon may need to perform a tooth removal surgery and replace the damaged molar with a dental implant. This way, patients can still have use of their molars.

While we may not think about our teeth often, remember why your molars are important. And if you’re looking to avoid oral surgery, make sure you’re keeping your teeth clean and healthy.

Exploring the Mouth: What is the Purpose of Canine Teeth?

Unless you’re dressing up as a vampire for Halloween, you probably don’t give much thought to your canine teeth, or your “fangs”. Did you know they play a vital role in your ability to eat and speak?

Canine teeth are named after, well, canines. Our canine teeth resemble dog’s fangs, just shorter and less sharp. They’re also called cuspids by many dentists. But no matter their name, the first canine teeth appear in our mouths around the age of 16 months.

Canine teeth are important for a variety of reasons, including:

Eating

Talking

Guiding other teeth

Maintaining the shape of the mouth

Without canine teeth, it would be extremely difficult to chew tougher foods, like meat. These sharp teeth help grip and tear food, so we can safely chew and swallow. Additionally, canine teeth help us form words properly. And when other teeth are erupting in the mouth, canine teeth serve as a guidepost to show the other teeth where to go. Overall, without canine teeth, our other teeth would be a mess, we would talk funny, and we wouldn’t be able to chew properly.

Unfortunately, there are concerns with canine teeth that people should be aware of. First off, because of their position in the mouth, canine teeth are prone to erosion. Gum recession is commonly seen above canine teeth, which can leave them exposed. To reduce the risk of this happening, it’s important to brush your canine teeth gently and carefully.

Secondly, canine teeth are the second most common teeth to become impacted. When a tooth is impacted, it doesn’t erupt properly — or at all. A dentist may use a dental cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) system to get a better look at the impacted tooth. This system can create three-dimensional images rather than traditional two-dimensional images. An experienced oral surgeon may work with an orthodontist to get the tooth into the proper position. Generally, an impacted canine tooth can be brought down with the help of braces, rather than having to explore tooth removal surgery options. If the baby canine tooth is still in place and is preventing the adult tooth from erupting, then tooth removal surgery may be necessary.

Canine teeth are some of the most important teeth you have. So always make sure to take care of them and if you do have problems with your teeth, listen to your dentist or oral surgeon to make sure you get that pearly white smile you deserve.

Exploring the Mouth: What Is the Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?

Having teeth grow in is simply part of growing up. Throughout your younger years, you experience almost all of your teeth erupting. But it isn’t until you’re in your late teens or early adulthood that you may experience your wisdom teeth coming in. Wisdom teeth don’t give you more wisdom, so what exactly is the point of having wisdom teeth?

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars that grow in the very back of your mouth. And to be frank, they don’t really have much of a purpose anymore. Experts believe that way back when our ancestor’s diet consisted of rough, coarse food, they needed that extra set of molars to break up the food. But since today’s diets consist of much softer food, people don’t technically need wisdom teeth anymore. And because of evolution, more people are starting to not have any wisdom teeth, or just one or two rather than a full set of four. Wisdom teeth are simply an extra set of molars that take up more room in our mouths, which can end up leading to some common wisdom teeth concerns.

Why Are Wisdom Tooth Extractions Needed?

When people reach the wisdom-tooth age, their dentist will take x-rays and make some important decisions about their wisdom teeth. If you’re lucky, your wisdom teeth will erupt and fit perfectly in your mouth. But if you’re like most people, you may have to have wisdom tooth surgery.

Teeth extractions are common nowadays — in fact, about 69% of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 have at least one tooth that’s missing in their mouths. And furthermore, one in four Americans older than 74 don’t have any of their natural teeth remaining. But wisdom teeth may need to be removed for a variety of reasons: they could cause overcrowding, become impacted, or cause infections if they erupt incorrectly. Wisdom tooth concerns often lead oral surgeons to remove the wisdom teeth before they even have the chance to erupt. If the wisdom teeth erupt incorrectly, they can cause further problems.

So, if your dentist says you have wisdom teeth, don’t worry. While there are plenty of wisdom teeth concerns to keep in mind, choosing the right oral surgeon will have your teeth removed properly if necessary and you won’t be any less wise.

Tooth Eruption: When Do Adult Teeth Come in?

As people age, they begin to lose their baby teeth and go through the slow, and sometimes painful, processes of having their adult teeth erupt. Adult teeth are important without them, we wouldn’t be able to eat our favorite snacks! Our teeth are important to not only our oral health but the health condition of the rest of our body as well. This means it’s important to take care of them, especially as they’re beginning to erupt. When can people expect permanent teeth to come in throughout life?

Dental Care for Kids Pediatric CareTooth Eruption Timeline

While tooth eruption can vary from person to person, the first permanent teeth generally start coming in around the age of six or seven. The first molars are usually the first teeth to come in, followed by the central incisors around seven or eight years old. Around 10 years old, the other permanent teeth start to emerge. These teeth include the first and second premolars and the canine teeth. And lastly, the remaining molars begin to come in. By around 13, most permanent teeth will have erupted and settled in their place. If teeth are having difficulty coming in, like an impacted canine tooth or ingrown tooth, then oral surgery procedures may need to be considered to help the teeth come in and remove them if necessary.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth generally don’t begin to erupt until the person is in their late teens or early 20s. But not everyone has wisdom teeth. Some people may not have any, while others may have just one or two. These last four teeth aren’t necessary, a lot of people undergo a wisdom tooth procedure to have them removed. Wisdom tooth removal is an extremely common procedure — in fact, it’s performed on five million people in the U.S. every year. Wisdom teeth may be removed for a variety of reasons: they can become impacted, not have enough room to erupt, or can become infected and need to be removed. If there are wisdom teeth concerns, like overcrowding, then an experienced oral surgeon will perform a wisdom tooth procedure to remove them. While a wisdom tooth procedure can seem scary, it can help alleviate pain and discomfort caused.

Teeth require special care, otherwise, they won’t remain healthy and can cause further problems. So as teeth come in, whether it’s baby teeth, adult teeth, or wisdom teeth, it’s important to keep an eye on them and visit a dentist regularly to ensure they’re as healthy as possible.

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Oral Surgery

Oral surgery can be scary, but there are ways to prepare for your new, full dental implants. While most people know about the aftercare that helps the healing process, many do not realize that before care is key in reducing anxiety and aiding your road to recovery.

Dental procedure example or oral surgeon example1. Talk to Your Oral Surgeon

Every surgery is different and it’s important to know the ins and outs of the procedure before sitting down in the chair. Find an experienced oral surgeon and set up an appointment to talk with them before surgery — this is an important time to ask questions, whether they feel silly or not.

Remember to include talking to them about pre-op care, such as fasting, medications, after care so you can prepare, etc.

Many people do not realize that they may need to stop taking certain medications before receiving full dental implants. Additionally, talking to the person performing the surgery will create a line of trust, ensuring you feel more comfortable leading up to the day of the operation.

2. Stock Up on Soft Food

As a dental implant patient, it’ll be hard to eat post-op. Before you enter the operating room, be sure to stock up on soft foods like yogurts, puddings, and potatoes. Doing this will save you a painful trip to the store later. Your surgeon will let you know when you can return to your normal diet.

3. Find a Trusted Driver if Sedated

Ride-sharing apps have become more common, but it’s important to get a trusted friend or family member to agree to drive you to and from the surgery. Do this in advance — this time is stressful enough without worrying about how you will get home. It is illegal to drive after.

Your health is the most important thing. When receiving full dental implants or undergoing oral surgeries, it is imperative to prepare. Not only will this reduce your anxiety upon entering the oral surgeon practice, you will be on the right track to recovery.

3 Reasons You Might Need a Tooth Extraction

Going to the dentist is an important activity that should be done on a regular basis. From spotting cavities to just getting a cleaning, regular dentist visits are vital for our oral health. But unfortunately, dentist visits aren’t always pleasant, especially when a tooth extraction is involved. While tooth extractions can be uncomfortable, they’re done for a reason. So what are some common reasons our chompers need to be removed?

Disease or decay: When teeth become damaged, infected, or become susceptible to disease, they often need to be removed. If it’s just slightly damaged, a general dentist may attempt to fix the tooth so it doesn’t need to be removed. And if the tooth is infected or diseased, the dentist may attempt to clear the infection or disease using methods like a root canal. But an infection or disease can quickly spread, so tooth extraction may be necessary.

Overcrowding: Sometimes, people simply don’t have enough room in their mouths for all of their adult teeth. When this happens, their teeth can become misaligned. Removing a tooth can give other teeth in the mouth room to sit properly. Sometimes, there isn’t even enough room for a tooth to erupt through the gums.

Wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth are the third molars that grow in the very back of the mouth. Unfortunately, most people end up having these teeth removed because they can be quite problematic. The wisdom teeth can be impacted, which means they don’t have enough room to erupt normally. Additionally, they can become infected or begin to decay. In these cases, a wisdom tooth extraction may be necessary.

There are a number of reasons why teeth would need to be extracted. While tooth extractions can be beneficial, leave an empty space behind. In this case, dental implants may be suggested to keep the mouth full of those pearly whites. Overall, it’s important to find an oral surgeon who knows what’s best for your teeth and can provide comfortable extraction procedures if necessary.

Can Tooth Extraction Affect Sinuses and Nasal Passages?

If you’ve ever lost an adult tooth, naturally or through an extraction, you’re not alone. In fact, according to prosthodontists, there are over 35 million Americans who don’t have teeth in one or both jaws. For various reasons, dentists may decide to remove a tooth. Whether it’s because of wisdom teeth concerns, an impacted canine tooth, or another dental problem, tooth extractions are extremely common. But like with most procedures, there are concerns when it comes time to remove a tooth. One common concern is whether tooth extractions can impact sinuses and nasal passages.

Your sinuses are located directly above your upper teeth. Due to the location of your sinuses, there is the possibility of there being issues with sinuses when an upper tooth is removed. It is important to note that the location of the sinus floor can vary from person to person. One person may have a sinus floor that is way above their tooth roots while another person may have a closer sinus floor. For those people who have sinuses that are close to touching their tooth roots, there is the possibility of their sinuses being harmed during a tooth extraction.

Because of the possible closeness of the sinus floor and the tooth roots, oral surgeons need to be especially careful when removing upper teeth. Undiagnosed sinus perforations can lead to infections and sinus drainage, both of which are more than unpleasant. Fortunately, a sinus perforation can easily be avoided.

Using x-rays, oral surgeons can easily see how close the sinus floor is to the tooth roots. If the sinus floor is too close for comfort, the dentist may suggest a sinus lift. During the extraction procedure, the surgeon will take necessary precautions to ensure the sinus is protected.

If a sinus does become damaged or exposed during a tooth extraction, the patient may experience symptoms like:

  • Periodic nose bleeding from the extraction site
  • Liquid coming out of the nose when drinking
  • Air going from the nose to the mouth when breathing

If an exposed sinus is detecting, the oral surgeon will close the site and the patient is generally given antibiotics to prevent infection during the healing process.

While there is a chance of sinuses being damaged during tooth extractions, experienced oral surgeons are aware of how to protect the sinuses when it comes time to remove a tooth. By choosing the right oral surgeon, you can rest assured your procedure will go as planned.

What to Know About the Tooth Extraction Healing Process

There are many reasons why teeth need to be pulled. Tooth extractions are extremely common. In fact, about five million Americans have their wisdom teeth removed each year. Tooth extractions are so common, it’s important to understand the healing process. With that in mind, let’s talk about a few important things to know about a tooth extraction healing process.Jaw Pain What's Causing It? On Mouth

The extraction process itself is simple. After numbing the extraction site, the oral surgeon will grasp the tooth and rock is back and forth until it comes loose. If the tooth is impacted or hasn’t erupted yet, the surgeon will have to cut away the gum and bone tissue covering the tooth. After the tooth is loosened from the jaw bone, it should come right out.

Once the tooth is removed, the patient will be sent home to rest and heal. The tooth extraction healing process is generally quick. Recovery may only take a few days, it is very important to be cautious while the extraction site is healing. If the patient has any prescription medication, it should be taken as prescribed. Additionally, physical activity should be limited the first few days to avoid irritating the extraction site.

It’s important to leave the extraction site alone as much as possible. This means when brushing or rinsing, the patient should try to avoid or be gentle around the extraction site. Furthermore, any sucking or sipping should be avoided: this means no smoking or sipping through straws. This action can affect the clot that has formed in the gap and can cause issues.

There are problems, like dry sockets, that can form during the healing process. These problems need to be looked at by the oral surgeon and should be addressed as quickly as possible. If the patient is experiencing excessive pain, it’s best to go back to the dental office.

Whether it’s for a dental implant procedure or wisdom tooth removal, it’s important for tooth extraction patients to give their mouths the necessary time to heal.

Wisdom Teeth 101: What Are They and Why Am I in Pain?

Oral Surgeon Office TeamAs humans, we face many milestones in our lives, one of these milestones is having your third set of molars come in — your wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, these molars don’t make people any wiser. Oftentimes, people don’t have room in their mouths for them and must get them removed. Your dentist will be able to judge whether you get to keep your wisdom teeth.

If your dentist decides you don’t have room for your wisdom teeth, you’ll have to have a surgical tooth extraction to have them removed. A dentist may use dental cone-beam computed tomography to create 3D images of the mouth, compared to 2D images created by traditional x-rays, to determine if wisdom teeth need to be removed.

If there isn’t enough space, wisdom teeth can cause a variety of problems. A surgical tooth extraction may be necessary if:

The wisdom teeth aren’t in the right position

The wisdom teeth don’t have room to erupt

The wisdom teeth are impacted

The wisdom teeth only partially erupt

The wisdom teeth are moving other teeth

If there isn’t room or the wisdom teeth are causing other issues, then you’ll most likely have to undergo wisdom tooth removal. Fortunately, wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common oral surgery procedures, as not many people have room for extra teeth.

If your wisdom teeth are coming in improperly, you may experience quite a bit of pin. While every patient is different, many patients experience pain and discomfort when their wisdom teeth are coming in. Therefore, there are many wisdom teeth extraction benefits — removing these teeth can ease discomfort and make it easier to take care of your teeth.

The extraction procedure itself is simple in most cases. If a wisdom tooth has erupted, it can be removed just like any other tooth. But oftentimes, wisdom teeth are removed before they erupt to avoid any additional problems. In this case, the gums will have to be cut open to reach the tooth. The process may become a little more complicated when wisdom teeth are impacted, but an experienced oral surgeon will be able to get the job done correctly.

Hopefully, you’ll luck out and won’t need your wisdom teeth removed — or you won’t have any at all! If you do have them, make sure to listen to your dentist and have them removed if recommended to avoid complications.