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ubersiren's avatar

Since we lose our baby teeth so young, does it mean that we are living far beyond the age we were originally meant to?

Asked by ubersiren (15046 points ) July 13th, 2009

Wouldn’t you think if we were meant to live to 95 that our baby teeth would last us longer? Or maybe we’d even get one more set of teeth to last us our whole lives? Does this early loss of teeth indicate that we are advancing to fast for nature?

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20 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Interesting. Does the jaw grow significantly from the ages of 5–10? Maybe that is why we lose them young and it has nothing to do with how long the tooth itself is supposed to last. I have no idea, just off the top of my head. I have heard that wisdom teeth frequently need to be pulled, because our teeth don’t all fit in out mouths anymore, supposedly a lag in evolution…but again, I really have no scientific information to substantiate what I said.

arnbev959's avatar

Your first set of teeth fit your jaw when you’re young. Then your mouth grows and you get a set of teeth that fit better.

I don’t think humans are ‘meant’ to live a certain amount of time, other than ‘as long as possible.’

casheroo's avatar

Hmm, interesting question. I can’t wait for the responses.

I personally had to have my baby teeth pulled, because they wanted me to get braces and they convinced my parents that my adult teeth were “right there.” They weren’t. I was in 7th grade when I had 6 baby teeth pulled in one session. I can see from my 8th grade pictures that I still didn’t get my adult teeth in. I got braces during 9th grade, after my adult teeth decided to make an appearance. I don’t know what it means. I think little things like that are signs of evolution. But, I also think that because I have (I think this is what it’s called) reverted teeth…my canine is where a molar should be…dentists love it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Not in the least. There is no such thing as advancing too fast for nature since we ARE nature. It is the natural progression of things. Technology and medicine are merely extensions of nature and evolution since evolution provided us with our larger brains and with them, the capacity to affect our world not mention our own life spans.

Jayne's avatar

Well, even back in the day when we didn’t live past our thirties, more people were toothless by the time of our death than now, due to poor diet and hygiene. So I think the issue is not that we are living longer than our mouths are designed for, but rather that, since people can cook their food so that loss of teeth is no longer fatal, there is no evolutionary pressure to keep our teeth resilient and plentiful, and are no longer required to last our entire lives.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Kurt Vonnegut brought this up in one of his novels, and his wording was something to the effect that we are born with enamel fixtures in our mouths that do not last our whole life. Not very scientific, but then, Vonnegut was something I admire even more than a scientist, he was an author unafraid to speak his mind.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

It’s quite simple actually… our teeth now are too big to fit into an infants mouth. but as children we still need teeth, so we have smaller ones to start. something I’ve always been curious about though is if we can ‘grow’ teeth, why could our baby teeth just increase in size as we do instead of needing to be replaced?

Phobia's avatar

I’ve thought about this also, but not along the lines of our baby teeth. We loose those teeth because (like others have said) we start smaller jaws so we need smaller teeth.

I’ve thought about living beyond our “expiration date” more along the lines of Menopause and the early age puberty starts. We go through puberty early in life (relatively), and Menopause usually starts a little past our average lifespan. I’ve always thought of this as humans living longer than before thanks to our technological advances and knowledge of what is healthy, and nature just hasn’t caught up with us yet.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Why do people grow grey hair generally in older age then?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@Bobbydavid As our body ages, we corrode. Our skin suffers after years of constant UV light, our inner organs wear down due to prolonged usage and our mind most often dulls. Your subconscious realizes that there are more vital parts of your body to concentrate on so it stops wasting energy on nonessential functions. which is also why many senior citizens lose most of their teeth and their finger/toe nails become thin and more fragile.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Yes I know. My question was in response to the baby teeth

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@Bobbydavid I’m sorry I don’t understand how grey hair is related to baby teeth?

Bobbydavid's avatar

Well, if we live beyond our time, how come we get grey so late in life?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

because we deteriorate slower due to advancement in diet awareness and medical treatment, our body doesn’t have to slow down as early as it once did.

Vincentt's avatar

We’re not meant to live any amount of time. We just live until we die and we have managed to, on average, postpone death more and more.

ubersiren's avatar

@Jayne : That’s a very good point that I never thought of.

I guess I didn’t mean to say that we were “meant” to live to any certain age. I should’ve said, “since we are capable” of living to 100. Like @Jayne said, we didn’t used to live much past our thirties, so it made me think that maybe we were advancing past our natural pace. And I totally think that’s possible. I know we are part of nature, but we humans are somewhat infamous for being counter-nature. Cryogenically freezing body parts, etc. Just because we are humans and humans are part of nature, doesn’t make everything we do productive for humanity or nature.

The size of our jaws does make some sense. I just wondered why we lose them so early. I thought I could’ve stood to keep mine until my 20’s or so. I don’t know. Just a thought.

Great answers, everyone!

answerjill's avatar

From what I have read about “wisdom teeth” (back molars that come in during adulthood), they served an evolutionary purpose. In ancient (pre-historic?) times, people ate extremely hard and tough food. Their teeth would get ground-down and worn-out at an early age. The wisdom teeth would come in as “substitutes,” just about the time when your old teeth were no longer functional.

Resonantscythe's avatar

I don’t have too much to contribute to this to this topic But I have hear somewhere that pre-historic humans were extremely lucky if they made it into their twenties. So that may have something to do with it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My Dad always said that we live longer than originally planned. His evidence – that we are biologically ready to have children at age 12 or 13. That our wisdom teeth come in at about age 20, which were meant to replace our long-lost first molars. Also, he said that people fell in love, had kids, and died so fast that there was no time to think about divorce. Ha-ha.

delirium's avatar

@petethepothead We are meant to live a certain amount of time. That’s why our bodies start falling apart at a certain time after we become useless as molecular machines for passing on our genes.

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