Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Why did early humans have straight teeth without orthodontics?

Watch more with these video collections:

“According to the fossil record, ancient humans usually had straight teeth, complete with wisdom teeth. In fact, the dental dilemmas that fuel the demand for braces and wisdom teeth extractions today appear to be recent developments. So, what happened? While it’s nearly impossible to know for sure, scientists have a hypothesis.”

Travel back to a time when pearly whites and jaws had to chew, chew, chew so that foods were digestible, then compare that time with contemporary eating habits that often include softer, processed foods. Do our jaws and teeth work as hard as our ancestors’ did?

soft burgers
Why do we have crooked teeth when our ancestors didn’t? This TED-Ed by G. Richard Scott explores the prevailing theory that as people’s diets have become “less chewy,” jaws decreased in size, leading to dental crowding.

evolution to softer food?
And some squirrel monkeys and hyraxes might agree. Learn more with the video, directed by Igor Coric, Artrake Studio, then Dig Deeper with TED-Ed:

“Because of their critical function in chewing food, tooth development is under strong genetic control. For that reason, changes in size and morphology occur over long periods of time. Research on fossil hominins and recent human populations show there has been a gradual change in tooth size over the past 100,000 years.”

different diets at different times

“Not all populations have been equally affected though. Change is less pronounced in populations that have maintained a traditional hunting/gathering lifestyle until recent times. It is more pronounced in populations that switched economies from hunting/gathering to a dependence on domesticated plants and animals. This subsistence change occurred at different times in different places, e.g., 12,000 years ago in the Middle East to 4,000 years ago in West Africa. The variation in tooth size among modern human populations is one reason there is geographic variation in the frequency of tooth crowding.”

Watch these videos next:
• Where Do Teeth Come From?
Why do we lose our baby teeth?
What causes cavities?
• How do braces work?
• Straightening teeth with dental braces, an 18-month time-lapse

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.