I’ve got crooked teeth. There’s not enough room in my face for them all, even though my face isn’t all that large on the inside. It’s a regular game of musical chairs in there and has been for years. My second molar got the last seat. My lower canines have barked my incisors sideways. There’s been a stampede for the exits. The bicuspids are overtaking the skinny ones in the front.
My molars mostly match up if I ask them to, but I could slide a small woodland creature through the front with my teeth clenched and not even rumple its fur. We’ve got a situation.
So it occurred to me the other day that as long as I was going to have to have this unsightliness I might as well find something to blame it on, and I decided to accuse my British heritage. According to the DNA wizards I’m about half British. And everybody knows British people have crooked teeth. And obviously the 4% of me that runs Neanderthal didn’t come to the fore in the tooth department, and while we’re at it, it didn’t do much for my eyebrows either.
But the internet said the British thing wasn’t so. In fact–and there were several scientific articles that agreed on this–the crooked teeth can be blamed on modernity. Specifically, it’s been a while since we humans did a lot of chewing.
So most modern people have crooked teeth. I don’t know what percentage get braces. Those used to be a lot worse. When I was growing up the braces looked like something you’d surround a penitentiary with. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, species-wise. I mean, why even have an extra molar in the back that they just have to rip out later? You suppose God flang it in there so dentists could buy a boat? The answer is, of course, that it isn’t extra. It’s supposed to be there. There’s supposed to be plenty of room in the jaw. But in most cultures we haven’t worked our jaws properly for a thousand years, and if it keeps up we’ll just end up with a cat-butt pucker-hole of a mouth and have to suck strained peas through a straw.
People used to really reef on things with their teeth. You’ve seen the dioramas. Everyone’s sitting on their haunches ripping mastodon meat with their faces and crunching on the bones for marrow. Then just for fun they chew on some animal hide until it’s pliable enough to make a canoe out of, or at least a nice lanyard. And because they are working those jaws, the bone is strengthened and lengthened. But without that exercise during the growth years, the jawbone never gets to be the proper size. Who knows? If I hadn’t grown up on overcooked vegetables and gummable meatloaf, I might have had a real jawline, and my chin wouldn’t be embedded in my neck like the button in an overstuffed chair.
So cooking is one of the big culprits. And my mom, a 1950s housewife with a Norwegian heritage to boot, never served us anything that was a challenge to chew. Tuna hot dish. Jell-O salad with tiny marshmallows. The only thing that gave me a chance was Bonomo Turkish Taffy. You get hold of one of those bad boys with your teeth, and you had to pull down and sideways on it with both of your little hands to torque off a piece. Then chew and chew. Hours later you were still sucking on it where it mortared your teeth together. I should’ve had the jaw of a Neanderthal.
The eyebrows still would have been a problem, but nobody would notice, if I added the wax lips.
Been a long time since we gnawed on mastodon so what you say makes sense. Lutefisk isn't much of a challenge even for toothless Norwegians. Then again, I am not sure we were expected to live this long.
Yeah, I think Nature pretty much washes her hands of us once we are older than breeding age. Fortunately, my bones and teeth are in good shape, as I didn't leech out perfectly good calcium to some ungrateful child who would ultimately hate me.
I suspect childlessness suits you!
I never liked children even when I was one!
I spent 2012 in braces. As a little old lady. They were in my mouth when you met me at Le Grand Continental.
Nothing ever stopped you smiling.
It seems that when my parents told me at intervals how tough their life was it didn't include mastodon mastication…
Ah, you have young parents.
My childhood dentist, Dr. Platnick assured my parents that I needed space in my mouth and to provide that he needed to yank out four permanent teeth, all up front. I ended up with teeth that slant every which way and several noticeable gaps UP FRONT!!! My other teeth came in just fine, including my wisdom teeth. I suspect Dr. Platnick needed to finance his boat.
That is NUTS.
Bonomo's O O O…it's Bonomo's…can-dy!
Wait–there was a jingle?
I think my Mom kept that stuff stashed and gave it to us when she couldn't stand the screaming any longer. It glued your teeth together pretty well – for about an hour.
I don't think my current teeth would survive it.
…and you said flang.
I was waiting for that.
Dang.. my English background was always my excuse for the crooked teeth… especially bottom ones. And since I could still chew and everything looked relatively ok from a distance there were no braces for me… Now Murr… please explain the eyebrows… I think I have a total of 15 hairs between two eyebrows and so did my Mom…. Where did that come from?
It's hormones, or rather the lack thereof. One of the many wonderful things one can look forward to with menopause. I just try to focus on the fact that I finally have boobs now.
I had boobs, and they're still wandering around down there somewhere.
Alright, for the second time today I wept. The 1st was watching a video of those eight uniformed servicemen carry RBG's casket down the steps of the capitol building and the second was when I read these words; "…if it keeps up we'll just end up with a cat-butt pucker-hole of a mouth and have to suck strained peas through a straw." The latter weep was from laughing too hard to breathe.
BTW my DNA is appx 50% North Atlantic (Brit/ Scantynavian) and 4% Neanderthal as well. The Neanderthal bit makes us more prone to autoimmune diseases. FWIW I've also got some Denisovian DNA, another ancient human species with big teeth and jaws. Some modern Tibetans have Denisovian ancestry. I'm in that ballpark. I work with genetics so I tend to go off on tangents. :^}
Seriously, they track the Denisovians? I will be damned. I guess I didn't have any because I totally would have remembered that.
I don't know that the lack of chewing is the real problem here. I think it is a genetic basic face shape thing. Broader faces tend to have a more square jaw with more space for the teeth, while narrow faces have, naturally, a narrower jaw, so less space for all the teeth, especially if large teeth are somewhere in your heritage and you inherit that gene along with a narrow jaw gene. so all the long gone ancestors who thought thinness was a good thing could have been wrong in choosing the thinner, more refined look for their partners.
I'm just reporting what I've read. When I think about it, I have plenty of room for my teeth. I have room for my missing wisdom teeth and one more next to them, but everything's moving to the front.
I've always had White Tooth envy, mine were always a more natural Yellow and even Modern Tooth Whitening hasn't improved that a great deal. Of coarse, it did give me an excuse to just forget about it and overindulge in Coffee and Diet Sodas. My Ancestors must have been of the Mastodon mastication Tribe since we all have straight Teeth at least.
Ha! To my shame, I have tried whitening strips (talk about giving in to social standards)–but the strips were horribly confused about what to stick to. It was like trying to put a nice cardigan on a stegosaur.
And this visual almost bumped the cat-butt thing out of my head. Instead, I’m stuck with both trying to crowd the other out.
Give 'em room. I probably got more.
I just had braces put on three weeks ago and I am 72!! I have an overbite and tmj issues.
I was congenitally short of two of the four front uppers needed for a pretty smile. As a kid I would stuff Kleenex between the extra spaces for a photograph. Thank heavens for dental cosmetics when I turned 40. 🤣
Oh my goodness! That's not where most of us put the Kleenex.
Speaking of mastodon and other large animal mastication: My daughter and other co-workers were discussing vestigial body parts. Someone mentioned the appendix and a younger co-worker suggested that maybe we needed the appendix when we ate dinosaurs. Everyone said "We didn't eat dinosaurs." She then asked, "Were we vegetarians then?"
And this is why this country is in the shape it's in.