Anthropologists tell us that human craniofacial volume has been diminishing over the past 10,000 years, a trend that is rapidly accelerating. Our jaws and faces are now even smaller than those of people that had lived even just 300 years ago, yet our tooth mass remains unchanged since then. Pre-historic fossil and pre-Industrial skeletal records suggest that malocclusion was a relatively rare finding in our distant and not so distant ancestors.
The new educational paradigm of Evolutionary Medicine (EM) attempts to understand modern systemic diseases through application of evolutionary theory and human ecology; the EM framework can also be applied in the field of dentistry. When viewed from an EM perspective, highly prevalent human malocclusion (poorly aligned teeth and jaws) can be better understood when viewed as a consequential mismatch between a stone-age adapted masticatory (chewing) apparatus and a post-Industrial feeding environment.