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The Click Languages: Did the way our ancestors communicate give them straight teeth?

Woman pointing at her teeth

Compared to our ancestors, our kids’ jaws today are developing much narrower and smaller.

Do you ever wonder why the majority of young people today spend their spring break week recovering from having their wisdom teeth pulled?

Our jaws aren’t developing large enough to fit all 32 teeth! It never used to be that way. Our earliest ancestors had big, broad dental arches that fit all 32 teeth.

So what has changed over the years?  It very likely is a combination of several factors, including one of the first human languages ever spoken by our tribal ancestors in Africa…the Click Language.

Anthropologists believe our tribal ancestors made very distinctive click-sounds, articulated by applying tongue pressure and suction against the roof of the mouth to communicate. The suction of the tongue against the roof of the mouth created a sharp smacking or loud popping which allowed members of the tribe to communicate in such a manner as to not be detected by predators.

It is believed, that this click pattern, using the tongue in such a manner, applied pressure in the mouth optimal to developing a broad, u-shaped upper jaw structure that accommodated all 32 teeth.  Our ancestors did not have dental crowding or malocclusion (bad bites).

A surviving group of the Kalahari Bushmen has preserved their click-language after living in a period of isolation.  Anthropologists studying this tribe today have discovered they can only articulate the sounds correctly if the modern tribal members have a broad, flat palate. It is thought that posturing the tongue high in the palate is what stimulates the upper jaw to fully develop naturally without the need for orthodontic expanders and braces.

Fast forward to today.  Majority of children today are developing smaller and receded jaws as a result of the tongue resting low in the mouth.  The reasons for this are many, including softer modern-day diets, being bottle-fed, pacifiers, and chronic allergies causing nasal congestion. The tongue must posture high in the roof of the mouth for the upper jaw to develop the face forward, which better accommodates all 32 teeth and develops adequately sized airways.

Many children in today’s society are being taught myofunctional therapy, using tongue posture and strengthening exercises to correct this problem. Maybe our children should learn click-languages again to allow for proper tongue pressure to the palate again!

Visit Dr. Tracey Hughes of Boulder Valley Dental Center to learn more about myofunctional therapy. To schedule a consultation, call 303-732-5388 or request an appointment online.

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Camryn's Story

Dr. Tracey Hughes is a highly sought-after and leading Louisville dentist. At the Boulder Valley Dental Center, Dr. Hughes welcomes her patients as ‘guests.’ She is constantly committed to advancing her skills and knowledge through continuing education initiatives. Having received her B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biology from Beuna Vista University in Iowa, she proceeded to obtain her Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1998 from the University Of Iowa College Of Dentistry. Over the years Dr. Hughes has committed several hours of learning to refine her knowledge and to ensure that she provides her patients with modern dental services. She is only one of less than 1,000 dentists who have earned a Fellowship in Advanced Physiologic Based Dentistry at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Technologies (LVI Global). Whether it is general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry or even sleep apnea, reach out to Dr. Hughes today!