We all had braces growing up — or at the very least knew someone who had. Although many people complain about the appearance or comfort of braces and unhappily endure the taunting during elementary school or high school, braces are very effective at setting our teeth straight. As we grow, our wisdom teeth also tend to cause our other teeth to become crowded. Of course, it might be much better if we didn’t have to deal with crooked and crowded teeth at all.

Next time you are cursing braces or even the dentist who places them, remember, it’s not their fault that we need braces. It’s more the fault of our diet.

Diet and Jaw Size

It sure seems like we have way too many teeth for our jaws, doesn’t it? Why do we even have wisdom teeth if they cause so many issues?

For the answer to that, we have to look at our distant ancestors who were first discovering alternate means of living from simply hunting and gathering what they needed to survive. Hunter gatherers often ate raw foods, which meant that they had to chew more to simply swallow their food and also had to eat more in order to gain the nutrients they needed to go about their daily lives. The jaws of early hunter-gatherers are fairly large compared to modern humans, which reflects their rough diets.

The first signs of oat harvesting date back to 30,600 BC, and with farming came a dramatic shift in the way we live. Farmers could now grow a wider variety of foods which could be chewed easier, leading to smaller jaw sizes.

But the truth is that these changes actually began much earlier than we began farming. Even our hunter-gatherer ancestors had significantly smaller jaws than primate relatives like gorillas or chimpanzees. Why? The reduction in chewing began with attempts to process or cook foods which meant that they did not have to chew as much to swallow their food. This process began more than two million years ago, though researchers disagree which came first and which made the biggest difference in our chewing.

Smaller Jaws, Bigger Brains?

While we can thank fish for our tooth enamel, our small jaws come straight from our farmer ancestors. And it was probably them who set the stage for tooth decay because carbohydrate-rich diets made our mouths more inviting for parasitic bacteria.

It’s not all bad though: there is reason to believe that eating cooked food as opposed to raw food lead to the development of our brains, putting us far ahead of our hunter-gatherer counterparts. The best part is, crowded teeth are not a life sentence. Orlando cosmetic dentist Dr. Weinstock has plenty of options available to remedy crowded or crooked teeth, such as porcelain veneers. Are you sick of dealing with your crowded teeth? If you live near Altamonte Springs, pay us a visit at Michael L. Weinstock, DDS. Please give us a call at (407) 834-6446 to schedule an appointment today.