10 Things You May Not Know About Your Teeth
Did you know that people have been using toothpaste since about 500 B.C.? Going to the dentist may be a relatively modern phenomenon, but it’s believed the ancient Greeks used a mixture that contained iron rust and coral powder to clean their teeth. Before the invention of the toothbrush, people would chew on bunches of tree twigs to clean their teeth. Thankfully, dental care has advanced slightly since then!
We’ve now got many different tools and a wealth of knowledge at our disposal to help us take care of our teeth, gums, and mouth. We rely on our teeth daily to help us eat, talk and smile. Knowing a little more about them and how our behaviors affect our dental health can help us take better care of our teeth and keep us smiling long into the future. Here are 10 things you may not know about your teeth:
- Teeth Are Unique
Your teeth are like your fingerprint, no two are alike. Their uniqueness is what allows officials to use dental records to identify human remains. Even identical twins have unique teeth. Fun fact: Your tongue also has a unique “tongue print!”
- There’s More Beneath The Surface
We only see the top two thirds of each tooth, the other third of each tooth is rooted underneath our gums in the jawbone. Therefore, keeping our gums healthy is just as important as caring for our teeth. Gums should always be firm, pain-free and pink in color.
- The Magic Number: 32
From front to back, you will have eight incisors, four canine teeth, eight premolars, and 12 molars (including your wisdom teeth) by the time you reach your late teens. Many of us end up having our wisdom teeth removed when they erupt to allow room for proper tooth development along our jawbone. Some of us though, will retain all 32 teeth throughout our lifetimes. IF we take good care of them.
- Tooth Enamel Is The Hardest Tissue
Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. Like a hard shell, its primary purpose is to protect the rest of the tooth from wear and tear, acidic or hard foods, and bacteria. Your enamel is made of minerals like calcium and phosphate, similar to your bones. What makes enamel harder and sets it apart from bone tissue is the specific formation of some proteins and crystallites.
- Tooth Enamel Is Tough, But Not Invincible
Even though it’s the toughest tissue in your body, enamel can still chip or crack, and it isn’t safe from decay. Sugars and acids, like those found in pop and some fruits and vegetables, interact with bacteria in your mouth and can attack your enamel. Pop and sugary drinks are particularly damaging to your enamel when you drink them often, or slowly throughout the day, prolonging enamel’s exposure to their sugars. Sugar feeds the bacteria that develops into tooth decay.
- A Bright White Smile Suggests A Healthy Smile
Yellow or discolored teeth not only dim your smile, they can indicate your enamel is under attack from bacteria. Decay turns your teeth yellow and that color deepens as the decay progresses through the white enamel. Dentin, the softer tissue under tooth enamel, is darker in color and as enamel is deteriorated dentin becomes exposed and your tooth appears to darken. Decaying enamel could also be to blame for tooth sensitivity to cold or hot.
- Dentin Is No Push-Over
The layer that lies beneath your tooth enamel is dentin and it is also harder than your bones. There are three types of dentin: primary, secondary, and reparative. All dentin is made up of small channels and tubules that provide nerve signals (pain) and nutrition (growth) throughout the tooth. Dentin continues to grow and change throughout your life.
- There Is A Party In Your Mouth
Our mouths contain over 300 species of bacteria, we ingest and spread bacteria all day long as we breathe and go about our activities. When those bacteria are allowed to remain on our teeth (in between brushing and flossing) they feed on sugar and form colonies, or plaque-the party. We feed bacteria all day with the residue on our teeth from food and drinks. This party is a buffet! The bacteria that form plaque convert sugar and other carbohydrates into acids which are the main culprit in tooth decay.
- Plaque Is The Enemy
White and sticky, plaque is constantly growing in your mouth. If you don’t remove it daily by brushing and flossing, it can cause tooth decay. When plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth for a period of time, it hardens and develops into tartar. To prevent tartar build-up, brush and floss at least twice daily and see your dentist for regular cleanings and dental exams.
- A Whole Lot Of Spit
Your body produces about a litre of saliva every day, which totals an estimated 29,000 litres over an 80 year lifespan! Saliva plays many important roles in your overall health. For example, it makes dry foods easier to swallow and contains enzymes to jumpstart digestion. Saliva also plays an important role in the health of your mouth; it washes away lingering food particles and contains calcium and phosphate which can neutralize the acids in plaque that cause decay.
For more information about caring for your mouth and teeth, to book an appointment, or to learn more interesting facts about dental care, call or visit Uptown Dental Centre in Fort McMurray.