There are many interesting facts about teeth that you may be unaware of. A few might even surprise you! Let’s jump right in…

Enamel is the hardest substance in the body – 

Enamel is made of mostly minerals and a little bit of water, as well as organic materials. Enamel is the outer layer of teeth,and is made to be very hard so it can chew and break down almost all types of foods. But even though it’s the hardest substance in the body, enamel is more brittle than other parts of a tooth and can break more easily.

Not everyone has 2 sets of teeth – 

Humans grow 2 sets of teeth, primary (baby) and permanent teeth. Primary teeth in humans start erupting a few months after birth, and they are slowly replaced by permanent teeth. Did you know that some animals grow more? Sharks grow a new set of teeth every two weeks to replace worn down teeth. Crocodiles in the juvenile stage replace their teeth with larger ones every month, but this slows down as they reach adulthood.

Teeth can be found in strange places 

Teeth, when in the mouth, are not always attached to the upper and lower jaw. They can grow on the roof of the mouth (palate), the floor of the mouth, or the back of the mouth (pharynx), like many fish and reptiles. Teeth that grow on other organs of the body are called teratomas. These are mild and rarely aggressive tumors that have dental or hair tissue in them. They can be found in the nose or the eye, on the tongue or the neck, and even in the ovaries or testicles! 

Each set of teeth is unique –

Each set of teeth is unique, a lot like fingerprints. A set of teeth is the way teeth have erupted one next to the other. Each tooth has a particular size, a particular placement, and a certain distance from the neighboring teeth, which makes the whole set unique. Forensic dentistry is the science that identifies a person based on their unique set of teeth. Did you know that Dr. O’Donnell used to be the Forensic dentist for Mobile county?

Teeth need saliva – 

Saliva has a protective function. It helps to prevent dental plaque and food particles from building-up on teeth by washing them away. Bacteria in dental plaque can cause cavities and could lead to gum disease. Saliva does not replace brushing and flossing! A healthy person produces about 35,000 liters of saliva in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools! 

Some teeth are very expensive – 

In 2011, in a London auction, a Canadian dentist bought one of John Lennon’s teeth for $30,500. The buyer is hoping to use the DNA found in the tooth to clone Mr. Lennon in the future. In 1816, a tooth said to belong to Sir Isaac Newton was sold in London for $1,140, which is today’s equivalent of $35,700. This would be the most expensive human tooth sold in history.

Teeth are the only structure that can’t repair themselves – 

Teeth cannot repair themselves, unlike other organs in the body which can heal if they undergo some damage. A chipped tooth can only be repaired by a visit to your dentist. Teeth lack the right cells to be able to heal themselves so they have no chance against visible cavities, infections or trauma.

Some people are born missing teeth – 

Hypodontia is an inherited condition where there are one or more teeth missing in a person’s mouth because they never developed. The most common missing teeth are the wisdom teeth (25–35%), the permanent upper lateral incisors (2%), the lower second premolars (3%), or the upper second premolar, with a higher prevalence in females than in males. Excluding the third molars, missing permanent teeth accounts for 3.5–6.5% of population. And 30-50% of people with missing primary (baby) teeth will have missing permanent teeth, as well.

There is a tooth bank in Norway – 

MoBaTooth is a Norwegian bio bank that plans to collect 100,000 baby teeth. These teeth will be part of a study to examine the relationship between pollution in the environment and disease. Primary teeth can give valuable information about environmental factors and nutrition during the fetal stage and early childhood. Other information collected are the mother’s diet and the parents’ surroundings during pre- and post-pregnancy. All this data will give knowledge about the effect environmental pollutants have on children’s health.

So, there you go! Now you know some really cool facts about teeth!