Does Skull Shape Change As We Age?

The bones of the skull change as an individual grows older. Plastic surgeons studying humans using three-dimensional CAT scans note several important changes as people grow older. According to NPR, these changes show up primarily in the eye, the cheek area and the jaw. These doctors attribute the “windswept” look of individuals with face-lifts and the deep-set eyes in older people to these changes.

NPR also cites David Hunt, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. who oversees thousands of skeletal remains at the Smithsonian and agrees that age affects the shape of the skull. In addition, the bone tissue itself changes as the individual ages. At age 20, the bones of the skull are smooth and dense. As the individual ages, the texture becomes rougher and less dense. Even with plenty of calcium in the diet and exercise, the bones continue to change as the individual ages. Hunt encourages taking steps to prevent loss of the natural teeth. His work shows that better dental care helps to retain the strength of the skull.

Live Science reports the changes in the shape of the skull affect both sexes, but tend to occur at an earlier age in women than in men.