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Description

Title: Evolutionary Foundations for Dental Research and Practice - Randolph M. Nesse, Arizona State University, Foundation Professor of Life Sciences, Foundation Director, Center for Evolution & Medicine

This session will be recorded and available in the IADR/AADR Knowledge Community after the meeting. 

Randolph M. Nesse, Arizon State University, Foundation Professor of Life Sciences, Foundation Director, Center for Evolution & Medicine
Applications of evolutionary biology in medicine and public health have grown rapidly, but are just now coming to dentistry. A foundational idea is that aspects of the body that leave it vulnerable to disease need evolutionary as well as proximate explanations. There are several kinds of such explanations in addition to mutation. Much dental disease results from mismatch between our bodies in modern environments. Decay is obvious, but malocclusion and third molar impaction may also be relevant. Periodontal disease, in evolutionary terms, reflects trade-offs between the benefits and costs of inflammation, and the specialized problem of controlling microorganisms in pockets. An evolutionary approach to cancer changes thinking from a focus on a single originating malignant cell, to the competition and evolution of malignant cells in a tumor, an insight with therapeutic implications. Evolutionary dentistry does not prescribe any changes in treatment directly, but it does suggest new research questions. Perhaps most important, it provides a framework for organizing and understanding the thousands of facts that must be learned to practice dentistry, and makes them especially interesting and memorable.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe at least two evolutionary explanations for vulnerability to third molar impaction.
  • Participants will be able to describe at least two aspects of modern environments that influence the prevalence of periodontitis.
  • Participants will be able to distinguish proximate from evolutionary explanations
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