Teeth’s Lesser-Known History Facts & Truths

Close up of teeth

A Quick History Lesson

  • 3,000 B.C.: Hesi-Re, the world’s earliest known dentist, sets up shop in Egypt. He hands out crude toothbrushes made from twigs and leaves.
  • 500 B.C.: Ancient Greeks develop one of the world’s first toothpastes, creating a mixture that contained iron rush and coral powder to clean their teeth. In China, early dentists mix soot, honey, crushed egg shells and ground ox’s hooves to deliver Asia’s first tooth cleaning paste.
  • 1,000 A.D.: A majority of people believe tooth pain is caused by tiny tooth worms instead of cavities.
  • 1498: Chinese dentists develop the world’s first bristle toothbrush by attaching coarse boar hairs to handles made of bamboo or bone.
  • 1945: A majority of Americans begin brushing their teeth daily.

Dental care and knowledge has come a long, long way over the last 5,000 years. Today, Americans are spending on average 38.5 total days of their lives brushing their teeth, a time investment that can lead to a lifetime of strong oral health. Nearly all Americans know the immense benefits of teeth brushing, but do you know these lesser known facts about teeth?


Facts About Teeth You Might Not Know

Knowledge is power, and these facts can help you take better care of your teeth and smile.

  • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but is not recommended for opening bottles.
  • Although they are hard, white and contain calcium, teeth aren’t bones. Unlike bones, teeth can’t heal themselves or grow back if they suffer damage, which makes taking pristine care of our teeth essential. As Dr. Seus reminds us in “The Tooth Book,” “When you get your second set, that’s all the teeth you’ll ever get.”
  • Each of your teeth is uniquely yours. Like fingerprints, no two teeth are exactly the same. We all have our own unique tooth print. Even identical twins don’t have identical teeth.
  • Overindulging on soda can have decaying consequences. People who drink three or more glasses of soda each day experience 62 more tooth decay, fillings and tooth loss than others.
  • Americans aren’t hitting the recommended brushing time of two minutes twice a day. The average person in the USA brushes for only 45 to 70 seconds per day.
  • Failing to floss daily leaves 40 percent of your tooth surface uncleaned on average.
  • If America has a favorite toothbrush color, it’s blue. More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones.
  • The average person generates 25,000 quarts of saliva in their lifetime. That’s enough saliva to fill two swimming pools.
  • The flu doesn’t just do a whammy on you, it puts your toothbrush out of commission. Norovirus microbes can implant themselves on the toothbrush bristles, leading to re-infection. Replace your toothbrush after suffering the flu, cold or another viral infection.

We should never stop learning about our teeth. For the more we know about our teeth, the better we can care for them.

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