What can animals do when they lose teeth as they get older? Well, you’ve got two choices. They can either starve to death, like elephants do when their last teeth wear out. Or you can replace your teeth, like people do with dentures.
Dinosaurs figured this out, too, and since it’s evolutionarily beneficial to stay alive for longer, they developed a solution for their lost teeth: beaks. These dinosaur beaks might be seen as the first dentures, designed to stand in for teeth that are lost as the animals got older.
Teeth Had Limited Function, but Were Vital
Dinosaurs often had very specialized teeth for their lifestyles, but in general their teeth weren’t as functional as ours. Like most reptiles, most dinosaurs just used their teeth for gripping and crushing or pulling and stripping. Really grinding up food was done in the gullet, by rocks, something that dinosaurs shared with modern birds.
However, even if teeth may be limited, they’re still critical. If you can’t strip leaves, you can’t eat. And if you can’t eat, you die. For all their benefits, teeth have one important limitation: once they’re lost, they’re hard to regrow. Some animals can do it, like crocodiles or sharks, but others–including humans and dinosaurs–can’t. So you have to replace them somehow.
Dinosaurs developed beaks to replace these lost teeth. The beak started developing around the tip of the snout, similar to where the gg tooth was in embryos, but unrelated.The beak wasn’t very functional–like early dentures–but it was functional enough to help dinosaurs survive as they got older. You don’t need complex structures to do what dinosaurs did with their teeth, and it had an advantage: unlike teeth, the beak could be regrown. That’s because it’s made of keratin, like fingernails. So these dino dentures could last a lifetime.
A Twist at the End
But here’s the surprising part of the story. Although dinosaurs started out using beaks just as replacements for teeth, they were so successful that dinosaurs stopped needing teeth at all.
Over millions of years, dinosaurs began to lose their teeth at younger and younger ages. Eventually, many dinosaurs started to be born without teeth, just beaks.
And that’s part of how dinosaurs became birds. Beaks, which started out as a simple replacement for lost teeth, became so successful that they completely replaced teeth for life.
Dentures have gone through a similar evolution over the years. Although traditional dentures were limited in function, modern dentures like FOY ® Dentures can function as well as or better than the teeth they’re replacing, which are worn, damaged, and incomplete.
However, these dentures aren’t quite good enough to extract healthy teeth and replace them with implant dentures. That seems about as likely as people learning to fly by flapping their arms. But, then again, stranger things have happened, obviously.
If you’re looking for highly functional dentures, please contact a local FOY ® Dentures dentist today.