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Good read: How changing diets changed language

June 6, 2023
Learn what scientists discovered about the effect of certain foods on childhood overbites and the impact on how people spoke—and changed language around the world.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

Enjoy this “good read,” an excerpt from an article or other online source related to dentistry curated and shared with DentistryIQ readers.

Switching from a diet of game meat and wild plants to one consisting more of processed dairy and grain products has altered people’s jaw structures over time, making certain sounds easier to say—and ultimately changing language.

Science News reported that the shift is a result from the fact that chewing harder-to-eat foods such as meat and some plants removes a childhood overbite, where eating softer, more processed foods retains the overbite. Adults who have that overbite are more easily able to produce certain sounds called labiodentals that require touching the lower lip to the upper teeth, found in about half the world’s languages.

Research found that the likelihood of using labiodentals rose substantially over the past 6,000 to 7,000 years, especially following the industrial revolution, when industrialized canning and processing “played big roles in preserving overbites.”

Read "The rise of farming altered our bite and changed how people talk" on Science News