There’s a month to celebrate everything these days, and your teeth are no exception. June marks National Smile Month and what better way to celebrate than to learn some cool new trivia about those pearly whites! You can impress your dentist next time you take the chair (well, at least after they take their fingers out of your mouth).
If you thought the “tissue test” was the only quirk some people have about their teeth, prepare to be surprised. Throughout the years, dental care has changed — luckily for the better. Go ahead and dig your teeth into this wacky dental trivia!
Just as your fingerprints are unique, your teeth are, too. If you watched Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the documentary based upon the real-life events surrounding the life and crimes of Ted Bundy, you might know the convicted killer’s unique crooked bite marks constituted some of the most damning evidence during the proceedings.
Today, bite mark evidence is considered with skepticism by defense attorneys and organizations such as the Innocence Project. They cite several overturned cases originally based on such evidence, like Ray Krone, an AZ resident who spent 10 years in prison including two on death row until DNA evidence cleared him of murder. However, even though courts shed a skeptical eye on bite marks, individual teeth remain about as unique as your genetic blueprint.
2. People Haven’t Always Brushed Their Teeth
It may sound gross, but people haven’t always practiced very good oral hygiene. Evidence in the form of artifacts suggests that ancient Romans used bone fragments as rough toothbrushes. However, for many during this time period, dental care fell low on the priority list.
As late as the early 1900s, only seven percent of American households brushed their teeth regularly. Many didn’t even keep toothpaste in their homes. This could explain why no one smiled in old photographs — perhaps they were trying to hide their unkempt teeth. Nonetheless, regular brushing eventually caught on in a major way, just as we know it now.
3. People Used Some Weird Things for Toothpaste
Toothpaste didn’t always come mint-flavored in a brightly-colored tube. Ancient Egyptians used mint, but also pepper and rock salt to make toothpaste. Additionally, they crushed eggshells and bits of horse hoof into the mix.
Moreover, if you think the ancient Roman practice of using bone for cleaning teeth was grisly, wait till you hear what they mixed it with — human urine. While urine breaks down to ammonia, which does kill germs, I think I’m going to take a hard pass on that particular recipe. Also, up to the 1850s, all toothpaste came in powder form, not creams or gels.
4. There Are Some Interesting Toothpaste Flavors
Wanna have some fun on your next Amazon Prime shopping spree? Dedicated carnivores who can’t wait until breakfast to taste the bacon can order toothpaste flavored like the popular breakfast meat. Have a bit of a sweet tooth instead? Then, you can find chocolate and cupcake-flavored toothpaste on the giant internet retail site.
5. Your Enamel is Stronger Than Your Elbow
If you’ve ever taken a self-defense class then you undoubtedly learned that your elbow is the hardest striking surface on the body. This may be true, but your tooth enamel is pretty darn tough, too, which is why teeth make up such a huge part of the fossil record. Even so, dental professionals prefer you reserve your teeth for eating, not fighting.
6. It Really Is Important to Floss Daily
Brushing leaves 40 percent of the bacteria and the sticky gunk feeding it behind. So yes, it is critical to floss daily. Don’t worry — once you get into the habit of regular flossing, it will sting less.
7. Got Unusually Strong Chompers? Thank Your Neanderthal DNA
If you’re of Middle Eastern or European descent, chances are you contain anywhere from one to three percent Neanderthal DNA. Neanderthals had powerful teeth and jaws designed for use as tools. This doesn’t mean you should open jars with your teeth though, but your pearlies may be tougher than most!
Celebrate June with a Healthy Smile
Now that you know how to blow your dental hygienists’ mind next time you get the “goofy gas,” book your annual dental checkup. The best way to celebrate National Smile Month is by taking good care of your own chompers — and smiling, of course!