Human Fangs: What’s the Point?

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As Halloween soon arrives in 88° heat, werewolves, vampires, zombies and ghouls of all sorts come out to play. Perhaps I have too much time to think, but seeing blood-dripped teeth made me wonder what our fangs are really about.

Why are our canines still so pointed and do they continue to grow? Are we actually turning into vampires?

If you ask most people they will joke that we rip flesh or pierce necks for blood as Irish author Bram Stroker wrote about in Count Dracula, 1897. The first mention of vampires began 80 years prior when John Polidori, an Anglo-Italian physician, published a novel called The Vampire.

A blood disorder known as porphyria spurred the concept of vampires. One of the symptoms of the blood disorder includes recessed gums which make cuspids look more pronounced like fangs. This disease is very rare yet incurable and occurs in fewer than 20,000 cases per year in US.

Prehistorically speaking, use of canine teeth is more romantic than blood suckers. Long ago, humans used their canines as weapons to fight. In simple terms, men used their teeth to fight each other over a woman’s love.

Here are some other real details about our canine teeth:

  • Canine teeth, also called cuspids, are part of a standard set of 32 teeth and generally come in fully around ages 11 to 13.
  • These teeth simply help us chew (rotary chewing action).
  • Over time, canine teeth were used less as weapons in courting and now are significantly smaller than our predecessors.
  • Men’s cuspids are 10 percent longer than females.
  • According to phrenology (the study of planes of the face to gain insight into personality traits), canine teeth can be attractive in a masculine way.
  • People with more pointed cuspids may be slightly more aggressive than people with those which are more flat, as described by dental research.
  • Human canine teeth are similar to lions, hippos, gorillas and other mammals but are now not long enough and jaws are not prominent enough for killing and shredding.
  • According to travel sites and science, there are currently no vampires in Transylvania, Romania. The fictional character Dracula is not real and there is no grave site although this question is still quite popular. There is, however, an interesting Bran Castle, a Romanian museum, which makes “an excellent day trip.”
  • Don’t forget to brush and floss after indulging in candy. Happy Halloween!

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