Beware: 11 things you didn’t know about your teeth

x-ray of teeth

Teeth are an integral part of our human anatomy. They help us chew food, talk, sing and laugh, and are an important part of our physical appearance. But our teeth do a lot more than just getting flashed when you pose for pictures or letting you enjoy that steak. Read on for some interesting things you may not have known about your pearly whites.

  1. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, at about 96 percent mineral. Every tooth has a protective enamel covering on it that allows you to eat without any pain by covering the nerve endings in your teeth. Enamel is stronger than human bone and a copper bullet—but it doesn’t quite compare to stainless steel.
  2. Saliva is an important part of our mouth’s defenses against bacteria. An average person will produce 25,000 quarts of saliva in his or her lifetime!
  3. Teeth appeared as early as 500 million years ago, in the throats of jawless fish.
  4. Teeth are just like fingerprints—they are unique to you and only you! Even identical twins do not have identical dental prints, making dental records an effective way of identifying a person. You even have a unique tongue print!
  5. Your teeth and mouth are home to about 300 strains of bacteria. Plaque is composed of millions of bacteria, classified into about 300 different species. Streptococcus mutans is one of the most well-known types, as it is responsible for turning sugars and carbohydrates into the acids that ultimately lead to cavities.
  6. Teeth are unable to repair themselves. Unlike a lot of organs in the body, which can heal themselves to a certain degree, if a tooth gets chipped or cracked, the only way to repair it is to visit a dentist. This is because the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, is not a living tissue. So make sure to protect your teeth with healthy eating and brushing habits!
  7. Teeth begin developing when a fetus is six weeks old. Primary teeth, otherwise called baby teeth, can retain information about nutrition and environmental factors, as well as the mother’s diet both pre- and post-pregnancy.
  8. The most expensive tooth in known history was sold in London in 1816. The tooth belonged to Sir Isaac Newton, and was sold for today’s equivalent of $35,700. The second most expensive tooth was sold at auction in 2011, also in London, and belonged to John Lennon. It went for about $30,500.
  9. 35 percent of people today are born without their wisdom teeth. This is because as we evolve, our jaws are becoming shorter.
  10. Sour is just as damaging to your teeth as sweet. We are all taught from a young age that sugary foods are detrimental to healthy teeth, but things with sour properties—such as citrus fruits, sour candies and juices—soften teeth and contribute to enamel erosion as much as sugary substances.
  11. Dental plaque is the same plaque that causes heart attacks in the body. Dental plaque can actually travel to your heart through the bloodstream and form blood clots, which may lead to heart attacks through blockage in the arteries. Research has shown that healthy gums are related to a healthy heart!

Your teeth and mouth are an integral part of the human body—as well a fascinating one. Make sure you practice proper dental hygiene habits and visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings to ensure your teeth stay in tip-top shape!