We have heard over and over again about the challenge that senior citizens face in terms of their oral health, usually the topic is tooth loss.
However a group of dentists of the Faculty of Dentistry at Malmö University, one of the most prominent universities in Sweden have conducted a unique study which revealed that the size of our jaws decrease as we age.
This initiative started in 1949, when plaster molds were made of the jaws of 30 Dentistry students, back then they were in their twienties. Then ten years later, another set of plastic molds were made and so on until 1989 which was exactly forty years after the first set of molds were taken. On this last ocasión only 18 of the original 30 participants were successfully contacted by the researchers.
When the plaster molds were examined, it was found that over the years the jaw would have less room to accommodate teeth. The jaws that were examined showed shrinkage, specially in the lower jaw in both lenght and width. Although this shrinkage is only a matter of a couple of millimeters, it is enough to cause the front teeth to crowd.
Unlike popular thought, the crowding of teeth in adults has nothing to do with wisdom teeth since in this study, participants without wisdom teeth would still have crowded front teeth.
But how to determine the shrinkage in the jaw?
According to the research, how much the jaw shrinks in a person will depend largely on factors such as genes and the state of the patient´s bite. For some patients this shrinkage will have no effect whatsoever in the mobility and mastication process, but it can affect the bite of others.
Researchers point out that this discovery is important in Dentistry and that colleagues should have in mind that fixed dental structures might need some readjustment through the years because of jaw shrinkage.
Knowing this, it will be easier for the Dentistry field to accommodate and work around the natural anatomical tendency of the jaw to shrink.
By: Prisma Dental
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