Episode 6: How the Dentist Came To Be So Important to Mammals


Why don’t mammals continuously replace their teeth?  The answer may surprise you.

Podcast Teaser: I hate the dentist.  Well, I like my dentist, but I hate going.  I suspect many of you don’t put a visit to the tooth doctor up on your list of favorite things, either.  You can blame a number of things for the necessity of dentistry: our love of sugar top among them.  But actually the problem is an evolutionary one.  We don’t often stop to think about it, but doesn’t it seem odd that you only get two sets of teeth?  First you have your baby teeth (technically, your milk teeth) and then you get a set of adult teeth.  And you better take care of those adult teeth because when they’re gone they’re gone.  But why is this?  Non-mammals, everything from fish to amphibians to reptiles to birds (well, their ancestors anyways) regularly shed and replace their teeth.  Why should non-mammalian vertebrates have it so good?

References / Further Information

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