By Michael Mears, Biological Sciences, ‘17 Author’s Note: I am interested in studying dentistry in future graduate studies, and have always wanted to learn more about the topics it has to offer. After taking a class focusing on neurons, it made me curious as to how the sensory abilities of teeth play out. I was surprised to read online a specific type of cell is involved with tooth sensitivity, and delved into research articles from there. I also wanted to highlight the future implications these studies help shed light on, such that future research will help clarify our understanding on topics like this.
By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology, ‘15 One feature that sets humans apart from other primates is the thickness of tooth enamel. Scientists at Duke University have recently discovered evidence on how evolution has resulted in thickened enamel for human teeth. By comparing the human genome to five other primate species, geneticists and evolutionary anthropologists were able to identify two segments of DNA where natural selection may have played a role in giving rise to thick enamel. Differences in enamel thickness have been linked to the difference in diet among primates. Humans consume foods that are tougher to chew relative to the food eaten by other primates, which is why humans have developed thicker enamel through natural selection.