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32241 Crown Valley Parkway #200
Dana Point, CA 92629 | Directions

Orthodontist explains the role of evolution in human adaptations

Dana Point dentist Dr. Mark A. Cruz and orthodontist Dr. Barry Raphael have collaborated in various capacities. Committed to educating their peers about the role of the airway in dentistry, the doctors developed an Airway and Facial Development video series. They have completed over 40 episodes, inviting doctors from multiple disciplines to join the discussion.

Drs. Cruz and Raphael are also founders of the Airway Focused Dentistry Mini-Residency, held on the East and West coasts. They developed a Venn diagram that highlights the airway and facial development cycle. Dr. Raphael explained the first circle of the diagram titled "Evolution and Darwinian Dentistry: Competencies," during a mini-residency session.

He highlighted "The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease," by Daniel Lieberman. The author explores the evolution of man, the competencies he has created, and how they have intersected with some major changes over human history. Dr. Raphael explained how natural selection is based on adaptations that can lead to survival and reproductive success. The principle of natural selection is there has to be variation, which can be genetic or epigenetic. It must be hereditable, and it must allow humans to reproduce in a successful way.

Physical adaptations that have helped Homo sapiens survive include standing up and walking. This allowed humans to migrate and find more food. They developed certain characteristics that allowed for walking and standing up to be positive adaptations. Eating food other than fruit allowed for the evolution to varying diets. This has contributed to the development of the jaw muscles and facial structure.

The nose is another physical adaptation that is important to highlight. The nose helps humans breathe better and is a critical part of guiding and correcting facial growth problems. Dr. Raphael then highlighted the brain. The brain developed in a way that created speech, which led to communication. Then, communication created collaboration, which has been the underpinning of civilization.

"We have been able to create adaptations from the things that we do," Dr. Raphael said.

Lieberman calls this "cultural evolution."

"One of the hopes of this course is we create a segment of 'cultural revolution' that will help us to survive and reproduce effectively," Dr. Raphael said.

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