Teeth are tiny, hard growths that we all take for granted. For those who have ever had a toothache, you’ll know that the simple act of eating something you love when you’re hungry, can be impossible. Even things like gargling, drinking cold water, and brushing your teeth become difficult and painful with a tooth injury or festering cavity. In this newsletter, we’ll take a look at what teeth are made of and include some fun, toothy facts about these tiny, but important chewers.
Teeth are embedded in the bone of your mandible (aka your jaw) and deep inside, they contain living nerves and blood vessels. Protecting these nerves is a collection of hard and harder material: dentin and enamel. These hard materials surround the pulp, which is at the center of the tooth and made up of living connective tissue and cells, called odontoblasts. While dentin, made of calcified tissues, is pretty hard, enamel is the hardest substance the human body creates.
Enamel: Once You Lost It, You Can’t Get It Back
Enamel is made of mostly minerals, specifically crystalline calcium phosphate. This hard material forms in the bones so your teeth come out fully coated in enamel. Time and use wear down enamel, as do acidic things like lactic acid produced by bacteria in our mouths. This is why sugary foods cause cavities! The more sugar in your mouth, the more you’re giving bacteria the fuel it needs to create lactic acid. Of course, the bacteria aren’t doing this out of spite, lactic acid is simply a byproduct of their metabolism.
Unfortunately for us, once enamel has eroded, it’s gone and will never grow back. This is why cavities don’t heal and you need to go to the dentist to get them filled. If you haven’t been already, now is a good time to start taking good care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing go a long way to keep bacteria from acidifying your mouth too much.
Tooth Fun Facts
- Dogs have 42 teeth, cats have 30 teeth, pigs have 44 teeth, and an armadillo has 104 teeth.
- A snail's mouth is no larger than the head of a pin, but it can have over 25,000 teeth.
- An elephant's molar is about 7 inches square and can weigh over 6 pounds.
- The Blue Whale is the largest mammal on earth, but it eats only tiny shrimp because it has no teeth.
Get A Tooth!
Looking for some toothy jewelry? Or perhaps you want to surprise that dentist friend? We’ve got lots of tooth-related jewelry for you! There’s our tooth necklace, the dental mirror necklace, a jaw necklace, and if you’re really looking to take a bite out of our collection, you’ll love the full-set-of-teeth necklace (technically it’s half a set, but there are still a lot of teeth in this piece). Get one or all of these gifts for yourself or for a friend. They also make great gifts for dental hygienists, recovering tooth-injuring patients, orthodontists, and starry-eyed dental students.
written by Science with Evie