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Friday, February 1, 2013

Interesting Dental Facts and Early Dental History

Oddly enough, our tongues are similar to our fingers – like fingerprints, the design of your tongue is 100% unique. Aren’t you glad we figured that out about our fingers first?

The first floss was invented in 1882, made from strands of silk. Over 30% of your tooth surface can be cleaned only by flossing. That means you are not cleaning 30% or more of your tooth surface if you choose not to floss. 

1938 is the year that the first toothbrush with nylon bristles was invented. Before that, the Chinese invented the first toothbrush in 1498 – their toothbrushes were made of bristles from various animals such as horses and hogs. Some of the first recorded dentists were found among the Etruscan, who were able to carve false teeth for themselves from animal teeth.

In medieval England, mothers would burn their children’s baby teeth that fell out. Why you ask? To keep the witches from stealing them, and using them to control the respective child. Less zealous moms would just hide the teeth in places where rats or snakes live, knowing that witches were afraid of these animals. Another interesting fact from the Dark Ages, was that people thought that obtaining a tooth from a dead person would help them grow a new tooth. Although eventually they would figure out that the only way to “grow” a new tooth was to find a way to insert that tooth into the space where the old tooth was.

Only a century ago, half of the adults on the continent of North America had no teeth. Luckily our dental hygiene and general practice has improved substantially – today, less than 10% of adults have lost any of their adult teeth. Before dentures were invented, dentists had to obtain teeth from a dead person to replace missing teeth. When those could not be found (or they simply did not fit properly), teeth were made from wood (why do you think George Washington never smiled?).

The main cause of tooth loss today for individuals under the age of 35 is sports accidents, fights, or other physical accidents, while people over 35 typically only lose teeth due to Periodontal Disease. Many animals, such as beavers, aardvarks, rats, and horses, have teeth that are continuous in growth, that is, they never stop growing! They keep them “trimmed” by chewing and gnawing. You can actually tell a horses age by looking at its teeth.

Brushing teeth used to be a rather disgusting activity, as toothpaste was made from various combinations of ash, charcoal, and/or tobacco, sometimes sweetened with honey. Some cultures actually used urine as a whitening mouthwash (urine contains urea, which somehow helps whiten teeth). Thankfully, that process has evolved substantially, and even though dental hygiene can still be a tedious process, mint-fresh toothpaste and mouthwashes lend to a less disgusting and overall, a far more satisfying experience!

Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 3:46 AM

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