High school students everywhere know that teeth can tell them things about the diet of the creatures that used them. Pointy teeth like canines might be for tearing meat, where flat, crushing teeth like molars are useful for grinding up fibrous plant materials. As it turns out, there’s even more that fossilized teeth can tell us about our distant past and our path to today’s mouth. (more…)
It’s a well-known thing that bacteria cause plaque on teeth, but what you might not realize is that something as common as teeth can also sometimes harbor microorganisms that have caused some of the worst plagues humanity has faced. Bubonic plague (not the same as plaque!) for example, has popped up many times even within the somewhat limited span of written history, generally with devastating ends.
They didn’t call it the Black Plague because it was a good time and made you look fabulous. Oh no, bubonic plague was disfiguring and, worse, highly contagious. Humans haven’t seen a massive outbreak like those of the Dark Ages recently, but that doesn’t mean plague is a thing of the past. It actually continues to persist globally!
It seems like every day there’s a new celebrity sporting a diamond in their teeth or a decorative gold grill. While it might seem like a new fad amongst the high-fashion elite or those searching for Instagram stardom, cosmetic dental adornments are anything but. In fact, enhancing teeth with precious gems, metals and more has a long history — and one we’d be wise to learn from when it comes to the risks and downsides of having a blinged-out smile. (more…)
How you look as you age is determined by a number of factors largely out of your control — genetics, environmental exposure to hazards and toxins and underlying health issues, to name a few. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are a few things you can do to ensure you age like a fine wine, rather than an organic banana relegated to the bottom drawer of the fridge. One of those things is making sure your teeth and gums are well taken care of.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in ancient Egypt? This oft-romanticized time had some not-so-beautiful features, including its dental work. Still, the fact that ancient Egyptians were making great strides in learning to take care of teeth is nothing short of astounding. It was a time with no pain-free dentistry– never mind cosmetic procedures that give you a beautiful smile like Invisalign or teeth whitening. Practitioners had a rudimentary understanding of anatomy and used some downright painful practices. One thing was the same, however. Then, as now, you’d have to be proactive about your dental health — except now it’s much easier to schedule a regular dental appointment!
The animal kingdom is full of delightful smiles that put any movie star’s grin to shame. Some animals definitely smile to express emotion — primates like apes, monkeys and chimpanzees come to mind — but the jury is still out on the grins of other animals and whether they’re deliberately intended to convey happiness like ours. Still, these stunning smiles are some of the best in the animal kingdom.
As long as recorded human history has been around, people have been trying to improve their smiles. Today you have your pick of safe, healthy and tested teeth-whitening treatments available from your dentist, but your ancestors and those before couldn’t just make an appointment with a licensed professional. Instead, people have relied on some pretty bizarre (and downright disgusting!) methods to whiten and brighten their teeth.
Throughout history people have wanted straight teeth and a perfect smile. Cultures across the planet and through time have been obsessed with finding ways to improve what nature gave out and stopped at nothing to align jaws, fix bite issues and get a better smile. These days, thankfully, we have painless and nearly transparent orthodontic treatments like Invisalign, but the history of orthodontics wasn’t always so pretty, pleasant or painless.
Fans of the show Vikings, streaming on a TV near you via Amazon Prime or Hulu, know that these seafaring folk were an unstoppable force of nature during the height of their plundering. Although they were far from the only people to pillage the village, what set them apart from their contemporaries was their willingness to steal from religious orders.
All of this disregard for the general moral order of the time, plus the blood baths they tended to leave in their wake created a legend that’s grown far beyond reality.
The Vikings were absolutely terrifying and you didn’t want to be in their way, but they were also very tuned into fashion and trendy dentistry. You knew that was coming, didn’t you? They weren’t necessarily doing regular root canals, but they did incorporate cosmetic dental practices on the regular.
I’m almost positive that you’re going to learn something today. I was flipping through The Atlantic’s website when I came across this article from March 2017. It’s an interview with Mary Otto, the author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health In America” and she has a lot of really good information to share.
For example, do you know why dentists aren’t doctors? I do. And so does Mary. She also makes some really good points, like why is it that dentists aren’t treated as medical specialists? I mean, you’d not go to some guy in an unaffiliated office where your records couldn’t or wouldn’t be shared if your liver was going sideways. You’d go to a hepatologist. Your mouth influences the rest of your body as much as your liver does. I’m pretty sure we’ve blogged about that before.
Something that most people won’t tell you is that the first dental college in the US was started by two self-taught dentists, back in an age when you could teach yourself dentistry and no one would call the police. They initially wanted to open a department at the University of Maryland in Baltimore back in the 1840s. When the physicians ran them out on a rail, they threw their hands up and said, “Fine, then. We’ll start our own dental school!”