We use them for eating, chewing, biting, and smiling. But did you know that there are many odd facts about teeth? Here are some interesting ones I’ve encountered in my many years as a dentist. You won’t normally hear about these strange and sometimes shocking tooth tidbits but they are certainly true.
Some babies are born with teeth. The ancients considered this an evil omen but this happens in one out of 2,000 babies born. So don’t be surprised if your newborn flashes a set of pearly whites. Napoleon and Julius Caesar are some of the famous people with natal teeth. These are often found on the lower part of the gums and have weak roots. To help the baby breastfeed and prevent accidental swallowing, natal teeth are often removed.
Baby teeth are not only found in babies. Losing baby teeth (also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth) is a normal part of growing up. Many kids in different parts of the world have made a modest income out of it. At the age of 3, there are 20 milk teeth in the mouth that eventually fall out as they are replaced by permanent teeth. This starts at the age of 5 or 6 and continues until the early teenage years. However, a baby tooth won’t fall off when there is no replacement yet. This explains why some people still have milk teeth.
Straight teeth aren’t always considered beautiful. Good teeth appeal to a lot of people but not in one country. In Japan, people get a kick out of crooked teeth called “yaeba.” In fact, some women with perfect teeth even have their chompers “fixed” by making them crooked. They say that crowded teeth make them look younger and more beautiful. If this trend spreads elsewhere, a lot of dentists could lose patients and be in big trouble!
The Tooth Fairy is a mouse. You know the story. My mom told it to me when I was a kid. If you lose a tooth, place it under a pillow and the Tooth Fairy will give you money the next day. Hispanic countries, however, put their faith in a mouse! This tradition began in 1894 when the son of Spain’s king lost his first tooth. To mark the occasion, the king asked a priest named Luis Coloma to create a story. Thus, the character “Ratoncito Perez” or Perez the Mouse was born. Today, the story is still popular among Hispanic children although Perez’s collection methods differ in some countries. In Argentina, for example, kids put their teeth in a glass of water in case Perez gets thirsty.
Dr. Joseph D. Lim is the dean of the National University College of Dentistry, president & CEO of Dr. Smile Dental Care & Laser Center and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy and the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail email@example.com or text 0917-8591515.