Teeth. We totally take them for granted—and really only notice them when something’s wrong (they’ve yellowed, decayed or otherwise failed us in some way). However, as one of our most important body parts, both in terms of daily living and in terms of beauty, it pays to really know the cold hard facts about your teeth.
You may think you already know everything you need to about your chompers—i.e. that you need to brush and floss them daily—but the following facts may just make you feel a bit differently about your pearly whites.
1. They’re hard.
The hardest substance in the human body is found on the enamel in your teeth. This, however, does not give you free license of open up plastic packages with your mouth.
2. They get icky.
Here’s a gross fact: There 300 different species of bacteria living in your plaque. Remember this the next time you contemplate going to bed without brushing.
3. They need more brushing than you think.
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for roughly two to three minutes each day to ensure your teeth stay nice and healthy. However, the average person only spends about 48 seconds on daily brushing.
4. They need not be straight.
While the American ideal is to have straight, white teeth, in other countries, this is not the pinnacle of beauty. In Japan, for example, having crooked teeth is considered more beautiful than having so-called “perfect” ones, so much so that some women get crooked veneers to hide their naturally-straight smiles.
5. They’re unique.
Most likely, you’ve heard the phrase “dental records” thrown around on “CSI” and other detective shows. That’s because everyone has a unique set of teeth, just like everyone has a unique set of fingerprints.
6. They have a number of hidden adversaries.
Here’s a reason to brush after every meal: Coffee, wine, sugar, sour candies (which are super high in acidity), fruit juices, potato starch, sodas—basically everything we love to eat and drink—can stain, soften and otherwise undermine healthy teeth.
7. They need saliva.
The average person makes roughly 100,000 gallons of saliva in his or her lifetime, which helps clean our teeth naturally. However, this production slows over time, which is why older people become more apt to contracting dental diseases.
8. They’re expensive to maintain.
According to recent research, Americans spend more than $1.4 billion annually on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products. Yet, we spend far less money—only $775 million—per year on toothbrushes.