Do you know everything about your teeth? You might know your own mouth quite well, but when it comes to teeth, there are some interesting and weird facts that just may surprise you. Dental procedures, fillings and toothbrushes have had a long history before reaching our mouths. Read on for five interesting (and weird!) facts about your pearly whites that just might surprise you. Want to talk about your teeth? Ask us at your next dental appointment, or click here to make an appointment with Affinity Dental of La Mesa today!

  • Tooth Enamel is the Hardest Surface in the Human Body – What’s the hardest substance in your body? Betcha thought it was your bones! In fact, the outer layer protecting your teeth is the hardest thing in your body. The shiny, white outer layer, called enamel, that covers your teeth is even stronger than bone. Tooth enamel is actually stronger than steel! Though it breaks much easier. What makes enamel so strong? This resilient surface is 96 percent mineral, the highest percentage of any tissue in your body. Enamel’s mineral composition (mostly hydroxyapatite, which is a mineral form of calcium phosphate) makes it durable and damage-resistant. The next layer down, dentin, is also stronger than bone.
  • The Oldest Known Dental Filling is Made of Beeswax – Dental innovations, such as teeth fillings sure have come a long way! Chances are you have at least one or two, or maybe even several, fillings in your mouth. But yours are likely made from composite resin, porcelain, or gold. What were the first tooth fillings made from? In 2012, scientists using ultra-modern x-ray equipment to examine the jaw of a Neolithic man made an exciting discovery: The man, who lived 6,500 years ago in modern-day Slovenia, had a tooth filling made out of beeswax! This simple wax cap applied to a broken tooth is the oldest known example of a dental filling. 
  • It Took A While for Americans to Make a Habit of Toothbrushing – Our dentist tell us to brush twice a day, and most of us take this to be a given part of daily life. But when did tooth brushing become a standard part of everyday American life? Not until the 1940s! It took several decades for the practice of brushing teeth to become routine for most Americans. In the 1910s, schools introduced dental hygiene programs like toothbrush drills, in which children practiced brushing their teeth with their teachers. Industrial factories also implemented similar programs to promote workers’ taking care of their teeth. Employers hoped their workers would miss fewer days of work due to tooth infections. Then, American soldiers during WWII were required to brush their teeth every day, and returning soldiers brought the habit back home with them. By the 1940s brushing teeth had become normalized and a standard part of most Americans’ daily routines.
  • Tooth Pulling Used to Be a Public Spectacle – Before modern dentistry existed, how were teeth removed? A few centuries ago, tooth extraction was tasked to an interesting assortment of workers. In Britain, for example, blacksmiths and wigmakers were often responsible for the task. There were also “tooth-drawers,” sideshow entertainers who would travel to fairs and marketplaces wearing silly hats and sometimes even necklaces made of teeth. They would typically make a grand entrance, sometimes on horseback or with a team of assistants, drawing crowds of spectators to watch the extractions. This practice continued into the 1800s. Not willing to make a spectacle of yourself? An alternative in the 18th and 19th centuries was to see a “barber-surgeon” to get your painful tooth removed with a tooth key, which was a clawed device that looks a little like a broken corkscrew. Thank goodness for the dental advances our modern dentists have made!
  • The Earliest Toothbrushes Came From China – Where were the first toothbrushes invented? While tooth-cleaning goes back thousands of years, with methods including abrasive powder, cloth, and frayed sticks, bristle toothbrushes first emerged in China during the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE). These early toothbrushes had handles made from ivory or bamboo. European countries, first France and later England, adopted these Chinese toothbrushes in the 17th century. Toothbrushes then evolved in design throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but the materials stayed largely the same. Plastic handles came along in the early 1900s, and nylon bristles followed in 1938. Today, we recommend you use a toothbrush that carries the ADA Seal of Approval

Did you learn something new about your pearly whites? These five interesting (and weird!) facts may have surprised you, but here’s one bit of information that probably isn’t new to you: the best way to take care of your teeth is to brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and check-ups. Taking good care of your teeth means you are taking good care of your overall health. At Affinity Dental of La Mesa, we are here to be your partners in maintaining your dental health! Ask us any questions you have, and we’ll be sure to share best practices with you at your next visit. Affinity Dental is proud to be the community’s choice for general dentistry services, cosmetic dentistry, and affordable dental implants. Call us at 619-697-2800 or click here to book your next appointment!