Teeth are important for digestion, smiling, whistling, and talking. Did you know that teeth are also scientifically and historically fascinating?

Check out these shocking fun facts about teeth:

  • Children begin to develop their primary teeth in the womb — only 6 weeks after conception.
  • Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body.
  • Unlike bones or other parts of the body, teeth are incapable of self-repair. This is why receiving fillings and other dental work is necessary to protect teeth from further damage.
  • Jaw muscles can contract with a force as great as 55 pounds of pressure on anterior incisors, and 200 pounds of pressure on back molars.
  • Tooth decay is actually classified as an infectious disease because it is caused by a particular strain of bacteria that can be passed between multiple people. This is why it is important to use only your own toothbrush!
  • Tooth decay is the second most common disease in the U.S., right after the common cold.
  • Most tooth loss in people under 35 years of age is caused by athletic trauma, fights, or accidents.
  • Athletes are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard during athletic activities.
  • An adult tooth that has been knocked out of your child’s mouth starts to die within 15 minutes, but if you put it in milk or hold it in your mouth under the tongue it will survive longer. 
  • Most tooth loss in people over age 35 is from Periodontal Disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It’s typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden.
  • If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 35% of your tooth surfaces.
  • 100 years ago 50% of adults in North America were toothless. However, today less than 10% of adults over age 65 have lost teeth.
  • Over 40% of North Americans have at least one tooth that could benefit from some type of treatment
  • Regular dental cleanings can help prevent heart attacks.

Curious Trivia About Dental Care Through the Ages

  • Ape teeth and human teeth are shaped the same.
  • Prehistoric kids almost never had cavities because they didn’t eat sugar.
  • The first set of false teeth were discovered in the 8th century BC.
  • Ancient cultures chewed on twigs or roots to clean their teeth.
  • Boar, badger and horse hair were used for toothbrush bristles.
  • There are 60 herbs commonly cited for treatment of dental problems in ancient Chinese medical books.
  • In ancient Egyptian times, you were more likely to suffer from a toothache if you were well-to-do. This was because the wealthy ate sweets (such as honey), while the workers ate onions.
  • Egyptians used a form of toothpaste over 5000 years ago.
  • Among the first known dentists in the world were the Etruscans. In 700 BC, they carved false teeth from the teeth of various mammals and produced partial bridge work good enough to eat with.
  • During the Dark Ages (500-1000 AD), it was believed that you could grow a lost tooth by obtaining a tooth from someone else.
  • In the Middle Ages (1000-1500 AD), people believed that dogs’ teeth boiled in wine made an excellent mouth rinse for tooth decay.
  • The first braces were constructed by Pierre Fauchard in 1728 in France. These braces consisted of a flat strip of metal connected to the teeth by pieces of thread.
  • In 1840, the world’s first dental school opened in Baltimore.
  • In 1859, 26 dentists met at Niagara Falls and started the American Dental Association for the exchange of information.
  • Colgate introduced aromatic toothpaste in a jar in 1873.
  • Colgate dental cream was packaged in collapsible tubes in 1896.
  • Orthodontic brackets were invented by Edward Angle in 1915.
  • The first nylon bristled toothbrush with a plastic handle was invented in 1938.
  • The first electric toothbrush appeared in 1939.
  • Today’s tooth fairy needs a lot more silver than she did in 1900 when she left an average of twelve cents. In 1998, the tooth fairy left an average of one dollar.
  • U.S. and Japanese studies have found that black or green tea has antibacterial powers that help prevent cavities and gum disease.
  • A $250,000 mechanical mouth developed by dental researchers can duplicate a year’s worth of chewing in 24 hours and takes four bites a second, drastically speeding up the testing of dental materials.
  • Over three million miles of dental floss is purchased in North America each year.

Strange Animal Dental Trivia

  • Dogs have 42 teeth.
  • Cats have 30 teeth.
  • Pigs have 44 teeth.
  • Armadillos have as many as 104 teeth.
  • Sharks have an unlimited supply of teeth.
  • Rabbits, squirrels and rodents teeth never stop growing. They keep them worn down by gnawing on hard foods like bark.
  • Snails are very small, but they have thousands of tiny teeth all lined up in rows.
  • Minnows have teeth in their throat.
  • A crocodile replaces its teeth over 40 times in a lifetime.
  • Turtles and tortoises are toothless.
  • A mosquito has 47 teeth.
  • An elephant’s tooth can weigh over 6 pounds. 
  • Fangs are not found in all snakes, but all snakes do have teeth, usually 6 rows worth. The teeth are curved backwards, just like the barbs on a fishing hook which keeps their prey from escaping.
  • As horses age, their gums recede and give the impression that their teeth are growing in length. The longer the teeth look, the older the horse.
  • Aardvark teeth have no enamel coating and are worn away and regrown continuously.
  • The mammal that has the most teeth is the long snouted spinner dolphin with 252 teeth.

Want to impress your dentist? Share your favorite piece of trivia from this list during your next visit! 

If you don’t already have a dental home, give us a call at 336-887-9277 to set up a visit. Bonus: if your child is under 2, the first visit is free!