Teeth are more fascinating than we give them credit for. It’s easy to lose sight of how magnificent the human body is when we’re always focused on keeping it in tip-top shape or peak operating condition. Rather than get bummed out about the problems our bodies give us, let’s revel in the glorious things they can do — and simply are. The human mouth is a unique, wild and wonderful space with some fascinating and gross things going on that are worth knowing, if only so you can win your local coffee shop trivia night.
1. Your Teeth Have a Unique Ecology All Their Own
It can be gross to think about, but there are over 700 unique bacteria that can live in the human mouth. Thankfully, most people only host between 30 to 80 at a time. Some of these bacteria are the “bad” kind, leading to decay and dental issues. Others are probiotics that help digest food before it ever even lands in your stomach. Still others are “good” bacteria, keeping the nasty microorganisms at bay and keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Wild!
2. Enamel is the Hardest Substance in the Body
Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body — even harder than bone. Tooth enamel is 96% minerals, the most out of any part of your body. The rest of your enamel is water and miscellaneous organic matter. The majority of your enamel is made out of hydroxyapatite — a fancy way of saying the mineralized form of calcium phosphate. In plain English, it’s why your teeth are durable and strong. It’s so strong it gets a 5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is a measure of how strong minerals, rocks and gems are. So really, the outer layer of your teeth is actually harder than steel. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more brittle, so it’s easier to break and scratch — don’t test them against steel bottle caps or cutlery unless you want to make an emergency dentist’s visit.
3. Your Bite Packs a Punch
The average adult human bite rates in at 162 pounds of pressure per square inch, with the strongest bite on record registering at 270 PSI. By comparison, Belgian Malinois Shepherd dogs — commonly used on police forces — have a bite force of around 195 PSI. Lions and tigers have a bite force of about 1,000 PSI and crocodiles have a fearsome 3,700 PSI chomp.
To put that in perspective, the bite of a crocodile feels like you’re being crushed, full force by a typical four-door sedan. It’s worth noting that the PSI exerted by your jaws can vary, with up to 700 PSI observed in people who grind their teeth at night. Ouch!
4. You’re Born With All of Your Teeth. Literally All of Them.
If you’re squeamish, it’s probably best not to look up an image of how your teeth are configured within your head when you’re a child, because you’re born with all the teeth you will ever have. You’re born with the baby teeth (or deciduous teeth) that develop as an infant and fall out during adolescence, as well as your adult teeth and wisdom teeth. While they may not have fully formed or erupted, your teeth are already present in utero — that is, before you’re ever even born, and are done making themselves by about three to four months into a pregnancy.
5. Your Tongue Print Is Unique (And So Are Your Teeth)
If you ever feel like there’s nothing special or unique about you, take heart: there are at least three things on your body that are unique to you and no one else in this world — even if you have an identical twin. Your fingerprints are unique, your dental configuration or “tooth prints” are unique, and strangely, so is the pattern of your tongue (your “tongue print”). It’s not likely that you’ll go around leaving your tongue mark on things you’d like to identify as your own (or at least, you really shouldn’t), but you do leave fingerprints and bite marks or indentations on things routinely. So your mom was right: you really are unique and special.
We Miss You!
Like most other things right now, the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is closed to help ensure our patients, staff and their families all stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, this also means we cannot be reached by phone at this time. We can, however, be reached by email simply by clicking here — someone will get back to you as soon as we can. We can’t wait to hear about your weird, wild, gross or unique tooth trivia the next time we see you for an appointment.