Besides making us look aesthetically pleasing and allowing us to eat, teeth may be small but they sure do have a big job. Teeth just don’t seem to get enough love that they’re supposed to whether that be caring for them or appreciating everything they do for us. Here’s a look at some interesting things you might not know about them.
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6. Different Beauty Norms
Western beauty standards and Eurocentric beauty standards are thrust out into the world where they can have severely damaging effects on how people view their worth based on their looks. In places like North America, having perfectly straight teeth that shine brighter than a diamond is viewed as the standard norm that everyone should strive to achieve. This is due to the media shoving ads of celebrity smiles in your face everywhere you turn. However, not every culture views straight teeth as something to be desired. In Japan, there are women who are getting crooked veneers called “tsuke-yaeba” to cover up their straight smiles. It’s seen as something “cute” and not at all an imperfection that Japanese men find attractive.
5. A tooth’s Best Friend
No, we’re not talking about your toothbrush here. That’d be more like your tooth’s close friend. Saliva happens to be best buds with your teeth due to the fact that it serves as a protective function, though, this isn’t an excuse to stop brushing and flossing. The saliva in your mouth helps protect your teeth from developing dental plaque, which causes cavities and gum disease, and the excess buildup of food particles by washing them away. The average person in good health will make up to .75 to 1.5 liters of saliva a day. That means in their lifetime, a healthy person is able to secrete enough saliva to fill up to two swimming pools. Some people suffer from a condition known as xerostomia where a person’s saliva production is decreased and makes the individual more prone to catching dental diseases.
4. Unique Teeth
Much like a person’s fingerprints, your teeth are unique to you and you alone. That includes identical twins because your teeth are determined not only by your genes but by outside forces after you’re born. An example of this is one twin who sucks their thumb will have a different set of teeth than their non-thumb sucking sibling. If the dentition of your teeth, the way that they are arranged, was to be measured, you’d find that your teeth each have a specific distance from each other, a specific placement, and a specific size that makes them one of a kind. This is what allows forensic dentists to be able to identify a criminal or victim through either x-rays or teeth impressions. Fun fact: your tongue print is also unique to you.
3. Long Way From Home
Teeth are, of course, heavily associated with the mouth as that’s where they are supposed to form but development varies from person to person and things can get mixed up. Instead of being attached to the jaw like they’re supposed to be, teeth can stray off and form in the most peculiar places. Some of these places include the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, and even in the pharynx which is defined as the “membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth.” In even rarer instances, teeth can form on your organs as tumors called teratomas that can also contain hair tissue. These teratomas are capable of forming in your nose, eyes, tongue, neck, and even your brain.
2. They’re Irreparable
There’s no doubt that the human body is capable of carrying out some amazing feats but there’s only so much it can do before it reaches its limits. Our bodies are able to regenerate themselves, to a degree, to the point where a small cut vanishes in a week’s time and organs can heal themselves. Unfortunately, teeth are the only things about us that are unable to repair themselves. The reason for this is because unlike the rest of our bodies, teeth have a thin outer layer called enamel which isn’t made up of living tissue. If a tooth ends up becoming damaged by infections, cavities or trauma, they can usually be “repaired” by having a veneer or getting dental bonding placed over the area.
1. The Hardest Substance
Most people would be quick to say “your bones” when asked “what is the strongest substance in the human body?” but it’s actually your teeth. This is because human teeth are coated with an outer layer known as enamel. An inside look at enamel shows us that it is made up of 96 percent minerals and the other 4 percent is water and organic materials. Just like your bones, enamel mostly contains calcium and phosphate except there are specific proteins and crystallites that make it stronger than bones. It’s what keeps our teeth from breaking down as we chew our food. Enamel can be viewed as a bit of a double-edged sword because even though it’s very strong it’s also more brittle than the rest of the tooth’s anatomy and susceptible to breaking off easily.