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Fun Facts About Dentistry

For today’s article, I thought I’d share a bunch of random tidbits about dentistry. Is it important? Not really. But it is fun.

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body; however, we do NOT recommend that you use your pearly whites to open bottles. Teeth are hard, but they can still break.

In 1994, a West Virginia prison inmate braided dental floss into a rope, scaled the wall, and escaped! I wish I had known this when I wrote my “alternate uses for dental floss” article. Of course, we suggest you stay out of prison altogether and use floss instead, because it cleans parts of your teeth that a toothbrush can never reach.

According to a recent survey by Time magazine, 59 percent of people would rather have a dental appointment than sit next to someone who is talking on a cell phone. I’ll be honest – this one surprised me. But it’s hard to argue with the impeccable research methods used by today’s news industry.

One hundred years ago, half of the adults in North America were completely toothless. Today, we are at around seven to eight percent. I have to give a self-congratulatory nod to my own profession for this remarkable progress, both to its researchers and its practitioners. Hopefully one day, we can eliminate tooth loss almost entirely.

On a similar note, Hawaii is the state to live in if you want to keep your teeth – especially if you are older. Only about 14 percent of seniors in Hawaii have lost all their teeth, compared with about 25 percent in Idaho. Of course, there could be some confounding variables at play here.

The Romans, in 200 A.D., used pretty impressive dental technology! They restored cavity-ridden teeth with gold crowns and utilized fixed bridgework to fix gaps from missing teeth. They also used a form of toothpaste concocted from honey and crushed eggshells. They did not invent the toothbrush, though – as far as we can tell, that was done by the Hindus in India in 4000 B.C.

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington’s famous dentures weren’t made from wood. His four pairs of custom chompers were crafted from gold, ivory, lead and a mixture of human, donkey, and hippopotamus teeth. As a dentist, I can appreciate modern technology, so I don’t have to trade parts with the local veterinarian.

Your mouth produces more than 25,000 quarts of saliva in a lifetime. Some sources say this is enough to fill two swimming pools, but I question the size of their pools. Either way, that is a lot of spit. Your body makes this saliva to assist with digestion and to protect your teeth from bacteria in your mouth.

I hope you enjoyed this dose of dental trivia. Enjoy your week, and be thankful that your toothpaste is not made of honey and crushed egg shells.

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