Science

Teeth: the Most Underrated Marvel of Nature?

You probably have a great wiggly tooth story to tell. Something hilarious, likely to involve some string, a remote control car, a dog, or maybe a wily older sibling. Whatever your story, those baby teeth started growing before you even had a brain! Let’s talk about why teeth are marvels of the human body.

Unless you have a problem with them, you probably don’t give your teeth a second thought. But your chompers are the result of some remarkable biological and chemical processes. Before you had a brain, special cells started building your teeth. And they could very likely be the artifact you leave behind for millennia to come!

So, let’s explore this fascinating story of how teeth grow and stick around!

Full disclosure, I grew up in a household where teeth were the constant topic of conversation. My parents are both dentists, so I spent much of my childhood in a dental office or listening to people talk about all the things one could possibly say about teeth. (I even had a few occasions where adults would come up to me and ask for dental advice.)

As a lover of biology, I also grew up fascinated with how the teeth of different animals differed based on the foods they ate. My mother had a marvelous collection of animal skulls that she used in school presentations about anatomy. I would spend hours comparing the teeth of herbivores to the ones of carnivores and cross-referencing them with models of human teeth I’d stolen from my parents’ office. Suffice to say, I find teeth and tooth-related matters to be fascinating.

Yet with all of this toothy background, I had no idea how teeth grew! It is a weird and wonderful process that most of us are completely in the dark about.

It’s easy for us to take for granted the wonders of biology that seem so mundane on the surface of it all. But it turns out, knowing a little bit more about our teeth and how they wind up the way they do gives you an entirely new appreciation for the wonders of the human body!

So, even if you’re not a tooth fan, you will be after watching this great video from one of the best YouTube Channels out there, It’s Okay to be Smart.

300 million-year-old teeth!

Have you ever considered how remarkable it is that we can still hold the enamel laid down by that ancient shark’s cells after all this time!

Millions of years from now, the enamel sitting in my mouth or yours will still be here, ready for study or found by our future ancestors. It’s an odd record to leave behind, but one that is incredibly telling. Our teeth say a lot about where we grew up, what we ate, and how we lived our lives!

Teeth have actually been a remarkably valuable part of the record of how the earth has changed. Indeed ancient dental remains are frequently studied to understand how everything fits together. Here’s a wonderful, short piece to give us a lasting perspective!

Teeth are also a fascinating look into our evolutionary history!

And they are a great place to get curious about how humans have adapted over the years. Have you ever wondered why you have wisdom teeth? Yep, there’s some pretty interesting biology happening there too.

If you’re curious and want to learn more I can recommend you check out this article about some of the other odd ancient quirks our body has that hint at our ancient past.

So, now you know a little bit more about the body you walk around in!

From learning how teeth grow to exploring our microbiomes, the human body continues to be fascinating. It’s remarkable how much we take for granted. Most of us, myself included, know so little about the bodies we walk around in every day!

Sometimes you’ll find wonder in completely unexpected places.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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