Can Baby Teeth Hint at Autism? Taking a Closer Look

baby teeth photo
Photo by trix0r

We’ve known for a long time that the chemical composition of our teeth can tell us some pretty amazing things. But aside from archaeology and anthropology, studying the chemical composition of modern-day baby teeth can tell us a lot about early-childhood development. One study in particular has begun to illuminate the connection between the minerals in our children’s teeth and autism.

Connection between mineral uptake and autism?

The study, led by Dr. Manish Arora at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York, wanted to take a look at the chemical composition of children’s baby teeth. To do so, the study used lasers to remove minute amounts of dentine from baby teeth in order to study which minerals were present (or absent) during the child’s early development. Using data pulled from the baby teeth of sets of twins as a control, Dr. Arora found that there was an increased level of lead in the children with autism, as well as lower levels of manganese.

Not only did the study show which minerals were present in the development of the children, but the data collected was also able to show when these minerals were present. The most notable difference between the teeth of a child with autism and a child without seems, according to the study, to be a matter of mineral uptake– the speed and timing with which a child’s developing body digests and processes minerals. For example, the study showed that there was a lower level of zinc uptake for autistic children in the womb, but a comparatively higher rate of zinc uptake following birth.

What does this study mean for you?

What does this mean? Well, in layman’s terms, studying baby teeth of neurotypical and autistic children seems to suggest that the way both groups absorb minerals is different. Likewise, there may be a connection between the environment in which a child is raised, the minerals and metals they’re exposed to, and the development of their brains. It’s been suspected for a long time that autism has both environmental and genetic factors, but until this study it has been difficult to suss out which factors were present during which periods. Dr. Arora’s analysis of teeth has been an important discovery for exactly that reason– now, scientists can examine when a child was exposed to these minerals.

It’s amazing what teeth can tell you. All the more reason to take care of them, right? If you’re interested in learning more about how your teeth impact your life in interesting ways, stay tuned to our blog! Dr. Matthews has decades of experience— we’re happy to help turn that to your advantage. Contact us today for more information!

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
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Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
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