Did you know that your teeth tell your life’s story? Bodies can be identified by their dental records- the specific shape, wear, and alterations of your teeth. However, some new research shows that your teeth tell an even deeper story. Major life events actually affect the formation of your teeth, leaving lasting marks. Let’s look at this exciting research that explains how your life’s story is told by your teeth!
Doctoral candidates, professors, and research scientists at NYU’s School of Antropology and College of Dentistry have collaborated on a study of cementum- the layer that surrounds teeth roots. Quickly after teeth surface, cementum adds a layer each year. This is similar to the way trees add rings annually.
Their theory was that major life events could impact the growth of the cementum layers. Examples of life events are: incarceration, systemic illness, and new living environments like a move from rural to urban living. Additionally, menopause & reproduction in females caused marks in the tooth rings. Their careful research has proven a clear connection between the distinction of certain layers and significant life events. They found these clear connections across multiple teeth in the mouth, confirming that it could not be caused by one specific injury or localized event.
“A tooth is not a static and dead portion of the skeleton,” observes Paula Cerrito, a doctoral candidate on the project. “It continuously adjusts and responds to physiological processes. Just like tree rings, we can look at ‘tooth rings’: continuously growing layers of tissue on the dental root surface. These rings are a faithful archive of an individual’s physiological experiences and stressors from pregnancies and illnesses to incarcerations and menopause that all leave a distinctive permanent mark.”
It’s amazing to see how collaboration across different disciplines can give us exciting new revelations. Here, the college of dentistry was able to work with the college of anthropology, which gives them both important information for their fields of study.