6 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know about Your Teeth

teethMost people have teeth and use them every day, but that doesn’t mean they think about them very often. Teeth are more complicated than people think, and it’s always a good thing to learn a little more about such an important part of the human body.

Saliva Keeps Them Clean
Brushing and flossing are important, but they aren’t the only things that can help keep your teeth clean. The human body has its own tools for keeping teeth clean, which is only to be expected since humans had teeth hundreds of years before they invented tooth paste. Saliva can wash bacteria off of teeth, which prevents them from releasing the acids that cause tooth decay. That means that dry mouth can encourage tooth decay, although it’s easy to prevent that problem by drinking plenty of water. Fluids aren’t as good at protecting teeth as brushing and flossing, but they can still make an important contribution to oral health, according to Kinsey Smiles.

Sugar Matters Most When It Sticks

Everyone knows that too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, but they don’t always understand how it works. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that live on teeth and release acid when they digest sugars. That acid wears down the tooth’s enamel, which can do serious damage over time. Sugar is dangerous because it makes it easy for the bacteria to feed, but that also means that the only sugar that matters is sugar that stays in the mouth. Sugar that sticks to teeth, like most candy and sweet drinks, does much more damage than sugar that leaves the mouth quickly.

Archaeologists Study Them
Bodies break down over time, so it’s hard to study people that lived thousands of years ago. Teeth last longer than most other parts of the body, and they can provide a lot of information, so they often form an important part of historical study. Wear and tear on a tooth can reveal a lot about a person’s diet, and signs of decay can be important indicators of general health. Chemical analysis can often reveal traces of things that the person ate! They may seem insignificant, but teeth can be some of the most revealing discoveries at a dig site.

Teeth Have Layers
Teeth look and feel solid, but that’s an illusion. Teeth are made up of four different types of tissue that form layers to create the entire tooth. The outer part is made up of enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the body. It is followed by a connective tissue called dentin, then centum, which protects the root of the tooth, and an internal layer of sensitive, fleshy pulp that contains blood vessels and nerves that connect to the rest of the body.

The Most Common Disease
The average person knows that it’s important to take good care of their teeth, but that doesn’t mean that they do it. Cavities are among of the most common medical problems in the world, and they are the most common in American children. Cavities are at least five times as common in children as asthma, but they also tend to be clustered in small populations. Most people don’t have any cavities, but the people who do have them tend to develop several over the course of their lives.

Color Changes Indicate Disease
Plenty of people have brown stains on their teeth from tea and coffee, but other colors are possible. Green staining can come from eating plants with too much chlorophyll over long periods of time, but it can also indicate exposure to nickel or copper. Blue teeth can be a sign of Parkinson’s Disease, although it more often comes from genetic disease. Pink and red teeth can come from leprosy, but they can also come from damage to the tooth or mouth. Discoloration is rarely enough to diagnose a disease on its own, but teeth can serve as important indicators of general health and provide a very visible sign that something is wrong before other symptoms become obvious.