2004-04-15 / Medical

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Dental Health

Gary S. Rafal, D.D.S.

Evolution And Fewer Teeth

By the time Mother Nature’s dental job is complete, most humans end up with a full set of 32 permanent teeth. But you can’t always trust Mother Nature. Occasionally, one or several teeth fail to develop. Such a condition is known as partial anodontia. This may happen with either primary or permanent teeth.

Even though all primary teeth may form, something may happen to prevent the development of the formative bud for one or more of the permanent teeth. The tooth most frequently missing is the third molar (wisdom tooth). Usually its absence does no harm.

It has been speculated that evolution is reducing the number of human teeth. Our "soft" modern diet requires less chewing than our predecessors. In many instances, the wisdom teeth are already dispensable and should be removed when they develop problems. Perhaps wisdom teeth are the first victims of a genetic trend toward fewer teeth but as yet there is no proof - just theory.

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