7 Facts You Never Knew About Your Mouth
Written by Dr. DeAngelis
How much do you really know about your mouth? The following 7 facts may surprise you.
Enamel Is the Hardest Substance in the Body
Believe it or not, your bones aren’t the strongest parts of your body. Tooth enamel, the white layer that creates a bright smile, is the body’s hardest substance.
Enamel is composed of 96% minerals, the highest percentage in the human body. In particular, enamel contains calcium phosphate, a rock hard material that lends enamel its durability. This strength is critical since enamel acts as a barrier to protect teeth from decay.
Even though it’s hard, enamel isn’t impervious to damage. Soda, coffee, tea, juices, and foods with dark pigments easily stain the enamel with hues of yellow and brown. Teeth whitening is a popular treatment to remove those unsightly stains and improve the appearance of the enamel.
Your Teeth Are Living Things
There’s a reason that your teeth hurt when they crack or develop a cavity: your teeth are living things! Every tooth contains pulp in its inner root canal chamber. That pulp includes nerves and blood vessels that nourish the teeth with fresh blood and oxygen. When a tooth loses access to blood flow, it dies. Just like a human!
The good news is that a dead tooth can still be treated with a root canal to preserve the outer structure of the tooth. This prevents tooth loss and keeps your smile whole. However, if a root canal isn’t possible, a dead tooth must be extracted and then replaced with a denture, bridge, or implant.
You Miss 40% of Tooth Surfaces If You Don’t Floss
Flossing is just as important as brushing, but not all of us do it regularly. In fact, 44% of adults admit they never floss!
But consider the valuable purpose of flossing. Moving floss up and down between your teeth breaks up hidden plaque and tartar stuck in dark, impossible-to-reach crevices of your mouth. This makes it much easier for your toothbrush and mouthwash to remove all of that plaque from the mouth.
If you never floss, a full 40% of your tooth surfaces will never be cleaned! Toothbrushing simply cannot reach the nooks and crannies accessible to a flexible piece of floss. Instead, plaque and tartar will accumulate until you develop gum disease. Yikes.
Modern Toothpaste Was Only Invented 100 Years Ago
Pastes have been used to help humans clean their teeth since the time of ancient Egyptians in 5000 BC, but modern toothpaste as we know it has only existed for 100 years!
The Greeks, Romans, and Chinese attempted to keep their teeth and gums clean with ingredients like burnt eggshells, crushed bone, powdered charcoal, and other unconventional options. It wasn’t until 1873 that Colgate started the mass production of toothpaste in jars. Those pastes usually contained soap, not the fluoride we’re used to seeing today.
Fluoride became commonplace in the 1950s after a Colorado-based dentist noticed his patients’ teeth were less vulnerable to cavities if they drank water containing fluoride. Crest first added fluoride to its commercial toothpaste products. This practice quickly became accepted as the best way to prevent cavities and clean the teeth.
Oral Health Problems Are Linked to Diseases in the Body
Oral health issues like gum disease are closely linked to serious conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and digestive dysfunction.
As the entry point to the digestive system, the condition of your mouth directly influences your gastrointestinal health. This explains why poor oral health is shown to contribute to inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. When an unhealthy oral cavity becomes a refuge for pathogens, oral bacteria moves into the gut to trigger additional complications.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It develops as a result of ongoing build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries. It turns out that periodontal disease triggers the formation of microbial pathogens that cause inflammation and attach to fatty plaques in the bloodstream.
Recent research has firmly established the two-way link between diabetes and gum disease. Much like the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to determine which one begins first, but there’s no doubt that severe periodontitis can compromise glycemic control and increase the risk of diabetes.
More Bacteria Live In Your Mouth Than People On Earth (Almost)
Your mouth is positively teeming with bacteria! You can’t see or feel most of the bacteria, but it’s there. In fact, experts estimate that the average adult mouth contains more than 6 billion bacteria. That’s almost more than the number of people living on Earth!
These billions of oral bacteria are incredibly diverse. Some serve essential responsibilities to keep your mouth healthy, while others only cause damage like cavities and gum inflammation. The productive bacteria actually help your mouth resist pathogens and toxins. It’s important to nurture a balanced oral microbiome to help your mouth fight inflammation, maintain a strong immune system, and prevent decay.
Saliva Is Essential to Taste
Saliva does more than keep your mouth moist and help digest your food. It actually makes it possible to taste food as well!
But wait, isn’t that a job for your taste buds? It’s true that your taste buds are responsible for your sense of taste, but without enough saliva to dissolve your food, taste is nearly impossible. The answer is simple-the receptors on your tongue can’t detect food molecules until saliva breaks the food down.
You can see the proof for yourself. Wipe your tongue with a paper towel and then take a bite of something especially tasty. You won’t be able to notice or enjoy it!
Want to learn more about your mouth and all of its mysterious wonders? Give your Carlsbad, CA dentist a call and schedule your next appointment. Dr. DeAngelis and her team are here to help you with any oral care concerns you may have.