Per a new report, researchers recently discovered that our teeth can show telltale signs of past stresses we’ve experienced in our lives, such as birth, menopause and even something like imprisonment.
Teeth Telltale Signs
According to the report made by the researchers, this phenomenon (where the past stresses leave a mark in the tissue in our mouth) is similar to the way trees reveal a lot about the climate and environment where they grew by the thickness and number of tree rings inside them. What’s different, however, is how the tissues in our teeth interact with light to reveal the clues that we can decipher and make sense of.
“We didn’t know that a portion of our organism served as such faithful biological archive for the entirety of life,” Paola Cerrito, co-author of the research, from New York University, said.
Per the researchers, this new discovery may help shed light on the fact that humans are one of the few mammals that continue on living for years even when they stop being fertile. This has led to a few theories like the “grandmother theory,” which says post-menopausal women live to help their offspring reproduce as well.
As such, the study may help in such a way that it can provide a look at evolutionary links between birth patterns and menopause.
Because of this, the team has now decided to look at the teeth of primates and other human relatives in order to look for the clues they need. However, the team believes their discovery can be used for other purposes as well.
“The methods we developed can be used by archaeologists of the ancient world to piece together a more complete understanding of the lives of past civilisations by integrating written records of a person’s social and public life to biological data regarding intimate details such as fertility, menopause, or other physiological stressors,” Cerrito said.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study included 47 teeth from 15 modern, deceased individuals, and were analyzed using polarized light microscopy to check the interaction of the cementum (teeth tissue) with light, revealing how these distinct changes line up with the timings of known events in a person’s life.