7 Fun Facts About Your Teeth
Aside from when you’re brushing and flossing, how often do you think about your teeth on a daily basis? You rely on them for eating, talking, and smiling with confidence, but you may hardly give them a second thought most days. Take a moment to learn these seven fun facts about teeth so you appreciate them a little more.
Teeth are like fingerprints.
Just as no two people share the same fingerprints, no one has exactly the same teeth as anyone else. Not even identical twins have the same teeth. That’s why dental records are useful for identifying deceased individuals.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body.
Enamel is the outermost layer of a tooth. Its primary purpose is to protect the softer parts of the tooth underneath. Enamel is comprised mostly of calcium and phosphate, the same substances found in your bones. However, enamel is even stronger than bone because of the particular proteins and crystallites that form it.
With that in mind, it’s important to understand that enamel still isn’t invincible. It can chip or crack in traumatic accidents, and it’s vulnerable to decay. Sugar and acid in the food you eat interact with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque, a white, sticky substance that attacks your enamel and marks the start of tooth decay. Soda and candy are especially damaging, so you should make an effort to avoid them.
Dentin grows; enamel doesn’t.
Dentin is the tooth layer located beneath the enamel. Small channels and passageways carve their way through the dentin, which is how nerve signals and nutrients pass into each tooth. Dentin is also harder than bone, but unlike enamel, it doesn’t remain static. Instead, dentin grows and changes throughout your life.
“Tooth worms” were blamed for cavities until about 60 years ago.
In centuries past—and up until as recently as 1960—people thought dental cavities occurred because tiny worms bored holes through teeth, like earthworms eating through an apple. It was thought that toothaches associated with cavities were caused by a worm wriggling around inside the tooth. Today, of course, we know that tooth decay is caused by bacteria feeding on remnants of food left behind in your mouth.
Up to 300 types of bacteria live in your mouth.
It’s estimated that 200 to 300 bacterial species inhabit the human mouth. This may gross you out, but only a few species contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. The species known as streptococcus mutans is the main culprit for poor tooth and gum health. When these bacteria eat the sugar and carbohydrates lingering in your mouth after a meal, they leave acids behind that eat away at your enamel.
The best way to get rid of the harmful bacteria and acids in your mouth is to brush and floss daily. A natural sweetener called xylitol, which you can find in some brands of chewing gum, is also an effective way to decrease the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Streptococcus mutans can’t feed on this sugar alcohol, so these bacteria die off, leaving your mouth cleaner and your teeth less susceptible to decay.
(Almost) everyone has the same number of teeth.
Both men and women of all races have the same number of teeth. First, you develop 20 primary teeth as a child. By the time your permanent teeth replace all of your baby teeth, and your six- and 12-year molars grow in, you’re left with eight incisors, four canines, eight bicuspids, and eight molars for a total of 28 teeth.
It gets complicated when the time comes for wisdom teeth, or third molars, to appear in your late teens or early 20s. If your wisdom teeth come in, and you have room for them in your mouth, you’ll end up with 32 teeth. Many people have their third molars removed because there simply isn’t space.
Then, about 35 percent of the population never develops wisdom teeth. Some scientists believe this anomaly will continue becoming more and more prevalent as humans evolve to no longer need wisdom teeth at all.
Your teeth start to develop before you’re born.
A baby’s first tooth may not erupt until around eight to 12 months old, but the tooth buds of all 20 primary teeth and 28 permanent teeth are already present in the jaw on the day a baby is born. The only ones missing are the wisdom teeth, which don’t begin to develop until adolescence.
Schedule your next dentist visit with Dr. Ania
Let these fun facts serve as a reminder that you can never know too much about caring for your teeth and gums! Make daily oral care a top priority. Then, schedule routine dental cleanings and exams to keep your teeth beautiful and healthy. Dr. Ania will make sure you can smile with confidence for years to come with preventative and restorative dentistry in Boulder, CO.
You can reach us at (303) 872-9940 to learn more or to schedule your appointment.