What better topic to talk about on the launching of Carleton Dental Clinic’s website than what I would assume to be in each dentist’s thought every day: Chocolate! Oh, wait, no. That’s me! Goes to show it’s on MY mind right now. Ha! Okay, I actually meant to say- a tooth. Dentists deal with teeth all day, that who knows, maybe their subconscious makes them dream about teeth too! Having said that, let’s look into some facts about teeth that you probably didn’t know:
- The tooth is the only tissue in the human body that is not capable of repairing itself. You can cut skin, break a bone, or tear a muscle to a certain degree, and they can heal up without any intervention. Not to say that pain would not accompany it, which is in fact why we would seek medical treatment, but these tissues have the cells that help them heal. The tooth, on the other hand, whether it be damaged by fracture or decay, will stay that way and even get worse more often than not. Some would argue that a cavity that had just started on a tooth can remineralize because of the help of saliva, thus, self-repair. But then again, it technically wasn’t unaided because without the saliva, the cavity would have just progressed. So, remember, once a cavity has been detected, don’t wait until it gets worse. If it doesn’t hurt you, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Don’t let it get to the point where it starts to bother, and that it would need more than a filling.
- The permanent molars do not replace any baby teeth. We hear this from parents quite often: “It looks like there is a new tooth coming out at the back, but I don’t remember any baby teeth falling out.” It is, in fact, a permanent molar, and they aren’t successors of baby teeth. There are normally 32 adult teeth in total (a little less if your wisdom teeth do not develop), while there are only 20 baby (or primary) teeth. Your toddler’s baby molars are to be replaced with adult premolars between 10-12 years old on average. Now that you know, don’t be surprised if you see some pearly bumps starting to come out in behind the last tooth in time for your child’s 6th birthday!
- Enamel – the outermost layer of the tooth – is the hardest tissue in the body. Yes, even harder than bone. It is brittle by itself, but the reason why it doesn’t break easily despite us chewing on them, is because it is supported by another layer of mineralized tissue called the dentin. These two layers together make the tooth durable and resistant to fracture despite normal chewing forces.
- Primary teeth (or baby teeth) are whiter than their permanent counterparts. The color of our teeth is influenced by both the enamel (outermost layer) and the underlying dentin layer. The enamel layer is translucent and is whiter, while the dentin is more opaque and more yellowish. In adult teeth, the dentin layer is a lot thicker, thus showing through the enamel more. This is more noticeable when both primary and permanent teeth are present in the child’s mouth at the same time. This is called the mixed dentition stage. The permanent upper and lower incisors are the first ones to erupt, right beside the primary canines that are whiter. Don’t be alarmed when you see this, as it is normal. A checkup is still advisable if you think that the degree of yellow-ness of your child’s permanent teeth looks abnormal, just to be on the safe side.
- In some cultures, sharp and pointy teeth make a woman beautiful. Women of the Mantawaian tribe in Sumatra, Indonesia brave chiseling of their teeth in the name of beauty. In this ritual, a chisel and a mallet is used to shave off portions of their teeth (without anesthesia!) to end up with pointy ones. It is their belief that decorating the body will keep their souls happy, and will help them live longer lives. The next time you have to come in for a filling and are dreading the thought of the drill, just think about how much more painful it is to have your tooth chiseled out without any freezing!
So there you have it! Some interesting bits of knowledge about the tooth. Let’s not take them for granted! Denture wearers always tell us, chewing food has never been more pleasurable than when they had their natural teeth. Have all the chocolate you want, just don’t forget to brush after! (I know I want mine now…)