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What Teeth Can Tell Us

When someone thinks about teeth, they often think of the mechanism that allows humans and other animals to chew food. While that is the main job of teeth, they have many jobs, and they can also provide us with valuable information about health and diet, people and animals throughout history, and they can also be used for identification, among other things. The following information will shed some light on the different types of information that can be learned by examining teeth.

What Teeth Can Tell You About Your Health

There are many different types of periodontal diseases that can affect your overall health however teeth can also give clues about health issues that did not originate in the mouth. Tooth loss can be a sign of osteoporosis. When the jawbone begins to erode, teeth will begin to fall out. Erosion of tooth enamel can be a sign of eating disorders. While the connection is not entirely clear to health professionals, tooth loss can also be a sign of kidney disease. Additionally, heart disease as well as skin and blood problems can be identified by examining teeth. Teeth can clue us in to many different health problems and as such it is important to regularly visit the dentist.

What Teeth Can Tell You About Diet

A healthy diet often coincides with having healthy teeth. On the other hand, a poor diet can often be seen in the teeth. Drinks such as soda and other high sugar drinks and foods are especially bad for teeth. By examining teeth and how healthy they are, a lot about diet can be determined. Scientists can also use fossils of teeth to figure out information about human diets throughout history.

What You Can Learn From Fossilized Teeth

Scientists study fossilized teeth to determine various types of information including how teeth have changed over time, as well as patterns that can give clues to the types of food consumed by ancient animals. If a scientist discovers that a species teeth have changed shape or size over time, they are able to learn information about changes in diet, and even social behavior, as well as information about the way the species moved (locomotion). Patterns on the teeth can clue scientists in to a species diet. Molar surfaces that are heavily pitted will suggest a diet that consisted of brittle, harder food such as nuts, bones, or hard seeds. On the other hand, shearing patterns on molars can indicate that teeth were used for shearing foods such as meat or leaves.

How Teeth Can Be Used To Identify A Person

While teeth are not as unique as a fingerprint, they can be used to help identify a person. Scientists can determine the approximate age of a person by the size of their teeth. Ethnicity can also be determined by looking at teeth, as different ethnic groups will have distinct dental features. Patterns on the teeth can also give clues to a person’s lifestyle and diet. The people that examine teeth for clues to a person’s identify are called forensic dentists. Forensic dentistry, or forensic odontology, has proven to be an invaluable tool for law enforcement in both helping to identify people, as well as to analyze and compare bite marks to help solve crimes.

By examining teeth, we can learn tons of information about health, diet, identity, and more. Teeth can give clues to various health issues, along with clues to humans and animals of the past. Ultimately, they are an important part of the human and animal body that can be used to learn information not only in life but also in death. The following resources will provide further information on what teeth can teach us.

Additional Resources:

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