Creating Healthy Smiles, One Smile At A Time

Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Least one thinks that teeth are only good for eating and smiling, Tanya Smith, an associate professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, has found that microscopic examination of teeth can help one determine the age of the person from whom the tooth came from.This groundbreaking research has allowed her to prove that our earliest ancestors, the Neanderthals, developed faster and had shorter childhoods than early humans.

She explains – “Teeth have rhythms inside them that are very precise, regular, and consistent, like rings in tree trunks.  And like tree rings, they can show you how long the organism has been growing – but on an even finer scale.  Children’s teeth lay down a mineralized record of growth eery day.  Your entire childhood is recorded in your teeth.”tanya-teeth

So chew on this -, one can estimate (with a high degree of accuracy) the age of a child or even adult  simply by looking at their teeth (with some help from a powerful synchotron microscope), and counting the number of ‘microscopic rings’ found within the tooth.  In fact, Professor Smith says that there is a line, called the ‘birth certificate’ which can be used as a marker for the day of birth, and henceforth reconstruct the age of an individual by using this ‘birth certificate’ line as a starting point.  And unlike in the past, where one would have to section (or slice open) a tooth in order to look inside, this newer x-ray imaging technique allows scientists to peer inside teeth without physically slicing pieces from them.

So possibly, sometime in the near future, if we wanted to to determine the exact age of a child, we may be calling Harvard and asking to borrow their synchotron microscope.  Or we could just ask their parents as long as they aren’t Neanderthals.

For more on this fascinating topic, click on the following links:

http://harvardmagazine.com/2014/09/tanya-smith-biological-anthropologist-studies-teeth