A motley crew of scientists argue that our ever-shrinking skulls are wreaking havoc on our well-being, reports OneZero.
Science suggests that crooked teeth, overbites, narrow jaws, and crimped nasal airways are a modern phenomenon. Skeletal remains show that just 300 years ago, humans commonly displayed straight, perfectly aligned teeth, wide jaws, flat palates and the large nasal passages that signal habitual, healthy breathing.
But more recently, our faces have begun to deform. Today, our skulls are marked by high, narrow palates, short lower jaws and, often, insufficient space. When children drop their baby teeth, there’s typically inadequate room for the adult teeth, which leads to crowding and misaligned teeth. Worst of all, this anatomy encourages mouth-breathing, which can, in turn, lead to under-the-radar sleep difficulties and a whole array of problems ranging from behavioral challenges, anxiety, and depression to cognitive issues. These conditions often cost thousands of dollars to correct through orthodontics, dentistry, therapy, and even surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids.
A motley crew of scientists and health-care providers are now coalescing to investigate how our faces are changing and the ramifications for our health. It includes a Chicago dentist, a Philadelphia anthropologist, and a Las Vegas feeding specialist, along with sleep researchers at Stanford and Northwestern. These professionals argue that modern life has disrupted the complex biological systems in our faces, heads, and throats, leading to problems as varied as jaw pain, chronic headaches, allergy, asthma, sleep disruption, and all the associated disorders. While many other factors contribute to these issues — from diet and technology exposure to parenting and societal changes — they see the evolutionary cause as crucial to understanding and addressing the problem.