Missing Molars & Microdontia

In a 2008 discovery of the remains of small humans (130 – 140 cm) on the Micronesian island of Palau it was observed that the teeth seemed unusually large in comparison to the jaw bone. Discoverer Lee Berger speculates that this is the result of a process of rapid dwarfing. Teeth apparently need more time to shrink then jaw bones. Another consequence of this particular difference in dwarf speed was that in over half the found jaw bones the third molar was found to be missing, simply because it didn’t fit anymore.  If we decide to shrink we need to address these different timetables. For this particular problem perhaps the study of what causes microdontia, the growth of unusually small teeth, is relevant.

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  1. The problem many people have with their wisdom teeth, growing sideways and pushing their other teeth forward, is a problem only because we have better dental hygiene today than in the past, when we lost teeth and the wisdom teeth would push the rest together to close up gaps. So if we do start shrinking and our jaws shrink faster than our teeth as well, we are going to have very crowded mouths indeed.

    • arne hendriks,

      First time I hear this about the function of the wisdom tooth. Although it seems that a process of molar agenesis takes care of this in the long run.

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