Prenatal Enamel Growth Rates, Weaning in Babies Linked

A new discovery may shed light about teeth in babies.

Research determined that incisor teeth grow quickly in the early part of the second trimester of a baby’s development while the molars grow at a slower pace in the third trimester. The reason is so incisors are prepared to erupt after birth at around six months of age. That time period is important because at approximately that age, babies are switching from breastfeeding to weaning.

Weaning among humans happens sooner than other primates. That’s why there is a shorter time period for human incisors to form, which is the impetus for the quick enamel growth.

This research may aid in the comprehension of the fossil ancestors of humans. It also may help dentists understand why dental problems don’t occur the same way in all teeth. Enamel cells place new tissue at varying times and rates.

Anthropologists often debate when early weaning in humans started. Current dental approaches rely upon finding fossil skulls with teeth in the process of erupting—something that isn’t often seen. This research will now make it possible to add more certainty to the debate regarding the start of weaning.

The information comes from a study by the Human Osteology Research Lab at the University of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation in the United Kingdom. It appeared in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.


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