You use your teeth every single day, but how much do you know about them? Here are 10 terrific tooth facts – you might be surprised by a few of them!
- Your teeth are even stronger than your bones
The hard casing that covers our teeth is known as the enamel and it’s the strongest part of our bodies. That’s right, even stronger than bone! This solid substance lets us break down our foods and chew them properly so they’re easy to swallow. Resistant though it is, enamel isn’t indestructible. Sugary snacks and fizzy drinks are kryptonite for our tooth enamel, so keep those super-villains away if you want to keep your super strong enamel away from acid erosion.
- A little fluoride goes a long way
There’s a lot of debate surrounding fluoride and you’ve probably heard some dentists spouting about its risks while others argue vehemently about its benefits. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in the UK water supply and it does help to strengthen enamel and fight off tooth decay. But don’t go overboard and smear half a tube of toothpaste around your chops – a little goes a long way.
NHS guidelines state that adults should brush twice a day with a small blob of toothpaste containing a minimum of 100ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Kids need to be extra careful and limit themselves to a pea-sized blob filled with 1000ppm. Finally, little ones under the age of 3 only need 1350-1500ppm fluoride. Always brush responsibly!
- Teeth are like snowflakes
Yes, they are both white. But there’s another similarity. Just like your fingerprints, your teeth are completely unique. No two sets of teeth are exactly the same, which is why you see forensic boffins on TV crime shows using dental records to identify bodies.
- It’s not how much you eat, but how often that counts
Hands up if you’re guilty of a sweet treat as a quick pick-me-up on a tough afternoon at work? We’ve all done it at some point and one little sugary snack from time to time won’t make all your teeth fall out. But it’s not actually the amount of sugar we chow down on that matters, it’s actually how often we do it.
This is because when we eat, bacteria in our mouths give off harmful acids that attack our tooth enamel. But though our enamel is a tough guy, it takes him a long time to recover from the blow. So if we snack constantly throughout the day, we’ve basically got a man down. If you do fancy something naughty, try and wait until mealtimes. Another great hack is sipping fizzy favourites through a straw to distance your drink from your teeth. Finally, a quick rinse with water after eating will help to wash away debris and promote a bit of damage control.
- Sensitive teeth? Blame dentin exposure
Tooth sensitivity isn’t a common problem and you’re certainly not alone if you feel a sharp pain when you eat an ice cream or sip on a hot bevvie. That sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin (this part of your tooth has hold of all the blood vessels and nerves, which is why it hurts so much!). Don’t despair, though – sensitivity can be prevented.
There are special toothpastes you can use and avoiding acidic foods and drinks (sorry, wine lovers!) will help your dentin stay where it’s supposed to. If you’re a tooth-grinder, you can also wear a mouth guard at night to put a stop to nocturnal wear and tear, which ultimately leads to sensitive teeth.
- Gums are not supposed to bleed
Okay, this sounds obvious. But so many people see blood when they brush their teeth and go about their daily lives as though nothing has happened. Would you do that if you noticed your eyeball bleeding? Apologies for the graphic imagery, but probably not. Bleeding gums are one of the first signs of gum disease so if you do notice them, alarm bells and flashing lights should start going off in your head.
Gum disease can cause serious damage to the bone structure that supports your teeth under your gums, eventually causing your teeth to loosen and then sadly, fall out. If your gums do bleed when you brush, arrange to see a dentist like the great guys at Sparkle Dental Boutique. It could be as simple as overly-eager brushing, but it’s always best to make sure and stop gum diseases before it gets too sinister.
- Chewing gum is your friend
As long as you keep it sugar-free. Chomping on sugar-free gum after eating neutralises harmful acids in the mouth and helps to wash away those cheeky bits of food debris that hide between the cracks.
- Your mouth is home to 300 types of bacteria!
Not to gross you out, but if you analysed a sample of your saliva, you might be a bit shocked at what you find. But not all strands of bacteria are nasty, in fact some are actually good for your oral health. But there are still some harmful bacteria lurking around in our mouths, so it’s very important to brush and floss every day to make sure the good bacteria prevails over the bad.
- Strawberries can be used as teeth whitener
Good news! Strawberries are more than just a fun fruity snack to eat when you’re watching the tennis. They contain malic acid, which works as a natural teeth whitening agent. Make a DIY whitening treatment by crushing up a strawberry and mixing it with baking soda. Use a soft toothbrush to spread this onto your teeth and wait five minutes. Once you’ve brushed it off, voila! A whiter smile without breaking the bank!
- Your wisdom teeth can pop up at any time
Wisdom teeth are so called because they’re supposed to appear between the ages of 16 and 25 (apparently we’re meant to start getting wise at this point). But this isn’t the gospel. Some