Back in the day, moms and dads would show their love and parenting skills by warning their kids they’d be getting their mouths washed out with soap if they couldn’t keep from saying dirty words. It was a scientific approach to child rearing if you consider that pre-1960, a common belief was that toothaches were caused by a “tooth worm” that lived in your gums. Always! If there was no pain, it was because the worm was only resting.
Here’s what we know now: There’s no such thing as a tooth worm. But, there are 300 or so types of bacteria in your mouth at any given time. The worst of which is Streptococcus mutans, which converts carbs and sugars into teeth-eating acid. Still not brushing and flossing regularly? Here’s some perspective: The population of people on Earth is less than the number of bacteria living in your mouth.
When someone tells you you’re one of a kind, it may fall on deaf ears if you’re the overly humble type. The fact of the matter is that your teeth are completely unique to you, like your fingerprints. Identical twins? Not if you look at their teeth. Not even twins have identical teeth, which is why dental records can be used to ID the deceased. Now you have two reasons to see a dentist: to have healthy teeth if you’re alive and to have a record of your teeth if you’re dead.
No offense to anyone out there who takes a lot of pride in the hardness of their body parts. You know, like those gym rats with rock hard abs. It’s the folks who spend time at the dentist’s office and who take care of their teeth at home that should be showing off. That’s because the enamel of your teeth is the hardest thing on your body, even harder than a bone. Like your skeleton, your enamel is made of calcium and phosphate. In addition, proteins and crystallites form from your enamel giving it even more density.
Spit take! Over the average person’s lifespan, they will produce 10,000 gallons of saliva. Picture it this way: A 12- by 24-foot rectangular pool that reaches 5-feet deep will hold around 10,800 gallons of water. Keep spittin’ grandma, you’re almost there! Just 800 more gallons of saliva and we got ourselves a family pool.
Unlike a plant that grows from the roots up, your teeth grow differently. There are three stages to tooth development: 1) Tooth formation, which happens under the gums, 2) Crown development, which happens above the gum, and 3) Root growth, which anchors the developed tooth to your jaw.
If you’re ever in Vermont, and you’re a female, you are breaking the law if you wear false teeth without the permission of your husband. Not sure what the single ladies are supposed to do, but the answer is somewhere within an 1856 law enacted by the state’s legislature. Ask Bernie Sanders what he thinks about it; he may have sponsored the bill. #FeelTheBern
Back when Chairman Mao was running things in China, the first modern toothbrush hit the market in 1948. Its bristles were made from horses, hogs, and badgers. It’s an unsolved mystery why they didn’t use puppy or kitten instead.
In medieval Germany, toothaches were cured by kissing a donkey. By the Renaissance, a lot of German dentists realized this was incorrect and they really felt like an ass.
Our nation’s first president, George Washington, wore dentures. That’s true. What’s not true is that the dentures were made of wood. Think classier. They were made of gold, ivory and lead. And, a mix of human, donkey and hippopotamus teeth.
The artist Grant Wood has a famous painting titled American Gothic in which a farmer and his wife stand plain-faced in front of their farmhouse. It’s classic Americana. Yet, the farmer in the painting is not a farmer at all in real life. In fact, that man was a dentist.