Want to make dental appointments more engaging and informative for your patients and surprise your friends, family, and co-workers with your expansive knowledge of dental trivia?
Print & Go GuidanceBy Theresa Ahearn
Teeth are often overlooked as just a tool for biting and chewing, but they are actually full of interesting facts that many people are unaware of. From their unique structure and function to the fascinating history of dentistry, teeth have a lot to offer. As a dentist, sharing fun facts with your patients can increase their excitement about teeth and dentistry, but also help to educate them about the importance of oral health. Whether discussing the strengths of enamel or the history of toothpaste, sharing these tidbits of knowledge can make a dental visit more engaging and enjoyable for you and your patients.
Tooth Enamel is Stronger than Bone
As a dentist, you may already be aware that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, even harder than bone. Though, unlike bone, enamel can be easily broken down by things like sugar and acid. It's important to remind patients to brush their teeth regularly and avoid sugary foods and acidic drinks to keep their enamel strong for life.
Dental Fillings Are 13,000 Years Old
Dental fillings dated back nearly 13,000 years and were made of a material known as bitumen. Bitumen is a naturally occurring, asphalt-like substance used for various purposes throughout history, including as a sealant and adhesive. The use of bitumen as a dental filling material suggests that humans have been attempting to repair and preserve the health of their teeth as early as the Neolithic period, also known as the New Stone Age.
Vinegar, Honey, and Crushed Bones
In ancient civilizations, such as ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, people used a variety of substances to clean their teeth, including pumice stone, vinegar, crushed bones, and even urine. However, toothpaste, as we know it today, was not developed until the 19th century. It has continued to evolve with advancements in dentistry and research to prevent or treat oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth sensitivity, and tooth decay.
Speaking of modern dentistry, patients now strongly desire pearly white teeth. However, it was fashionable to have black or dark-colored teeth in the past. In some cultures, black teeth were even considered a symbol of beauty and wealth. In ancient Japan, people used a process called "ohaguro" to dye their teeth black as a sign of high social status. The practice involved applying a mixture of iron oxide and vinegar to the teeth to achieve the desired look. Despite its association with status and beauty, the practice of ohaguro was eventually phased out in Japan due to its potential health risks to teeth and gums.
Humans have used toothbrushes for centuries to clean teeth and maintain oral hygiene. In fact, the earliest toothbrushes were made of twigs or animal bones. The first bristle toothbrushes were invented in China using boar hairs in the 17th century. Boar hair has some advantages as a toothbrush bristle material as it is relatively soft and gentle on the gums and has a natural ability to absorb water.
Mythical Tooth Worms
Tooth worms, also known as dental worms or odontomes, were once a popular medical belief suspected to cause tooth decay. The belief in tooth worms dates back to ancient civilizations and was prevalent in many different cultures around the world. According to the myth, tooth worms were small, worm-like creatures that lived in the mouth and ate away at teeth, causing them to become decayed or infected. However, thanks to modern science, the idea of tooth worms has been debunked, and there is no scientific evidence to prove they ever existed.
Dental Stem Cell Therapy
Though it sounds just as mythical as tooth worms, dental stem cell therapy is a promising area of dentistry research that can revolutionize how dental issues are treated. In dental stem cell therapy, stem cells are harvested from a person's own dental tissue, such as wisdom teeth or the pulp of a tooth, and are then used to regenerate or repair damaged or diseased tissues in the mouth. This technology can be used to repair damaged or missing teeth, regenerate bone tissue, and even grow new gum tissue. Unfortunately, dental stem cell therapy is still in the early stages of development and is not yet widely available or commonly known.
Denmark has the Healthiest Teeth in the World
Denmark consistently ranks as having the healthiest teeth in the world. This is partly due to the country's strong emphasis on dental hygiene and preventive care. In Denmark, children receive dental check-ups every six months, and the government covers a large portion of the cost of dental care. Additionally, fluoride in Denmark's public water supply has helped reduce the incidence of tooth decay. Overall, the combination of regular dental check-ups, preventive care, and access to fluoride has contributed to Denmark's high ranking in terms of dental health.
Finally, it's good to learn interesting facts about teeth that average people might not know. Keeping patients aware of the importance of teeth historically and today is a unique way to keep them engaged and informed. Additionally, knowing unusual or lesser-known facts about teeth can help to foster a sense of curiosity and encourage people to learn more about dental health and hygiene.
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Author: Theresa Ahearn is a freelance writer, currently residing in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the New York Institute of Technology and Master of Science from Central Connecticut State University. When not writing, she can be found fishing or traveling someplace new.