OTTAWA, ONTARIO – New research led by University of Bristol’s Dr. Martin Ruecklin proves the oldest jawed vertebrates had teeth, which suggests teeth and jaws evolved together.

The paper Development of teeth and jaws in the earliest jawed vertebrates was published Oct. 17 in Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science. The study is telling, as previous research suggested the first jawed vertebrates were toothless.

Dr. David Bartos, a beauty dentist in Ottawa, and his business partner Dr. Mark Northcott are interested in how this research shows the tightly linked harmony of our teeth and jawbones. Our six family dental offices serve patients in the greater Ottawa area, and we help improve jaw function and placement with neuromuscular dentistry.

The team included researchers from across the globe. Swiss physicists joined forces with paleontologists from the University of Bristol, the Natural History Museum and Australia’s Curtin University to study the prehistoric jawed fish Compagopiscis. The team used well-preserved fossils and high energy X-rays to learn how the fish’s teeth and jaws developed.

“We were able to visualize every tissue, cell and growth line within the bony jaws, allowing us to study the development of the jaws and teeth,” says Dr. Ruecklin. “We could then make comparisons with the embryology of living vertebrates, thus demonstrating that placoderms possessed teeth.”

The high energy X-rays are not invasive. This method gave the researchers extremely detailed data without destroying the fossil. Scientists previously thought these ancient vertebrate species were toothless and used their jawbones like scissors. The study gives firm evidence that primitive jawed vertebrates had jaws and teeth.

“These wonderfully preserved fossils from Australia yield many secrets of our evolutionary ancestry but research has been held back waiting for the kind of non-destructive technology that we used in this study,” says Natural History Museum researcher Dr. Zerina Johanson. “Without the collaborations between paleontologists and physicists, our evolutionary history would remain hidden in the rocks.”

Drs. Bartos and Northcott practice neuromuscular dentistry, a treatment philosophy which finds the delicate balance between your facial muscles, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and your bite. We understand the complex relationship between your teeth and jaw, and our custom orthotics will help you stabilize your bite. You may suffer from migraines, neck and face pain, ringing ears, a popping jaw or numbed fingertips. All of these symptoms may stem from your misaligned TMJ. Contact our team to test your jaw alignment with our advanced technology.