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3 Fun Facts About Teeth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Over the last century, dentistry has evolved significantly. And over the last decade or two, our dental knowledge and capability are lightyears from what it used to be. Many centuries ago, our ancestors didn't have access to the technology, research, or knowledge of our teeth that we do today. Join us as we combine Modern Dentistry 101 with your history and philosophy curriculum.

Cavities Are Not Caused by Tooth Worms

Back in the day, and we mean way back to the Middle Ages, centuries and centuries ago — many thought cavities were due to tiny little worms that lived in your teeth. And when they wiggled inside your tooth, that was a toothache happening. Well, sorry folks, that's just not true. There are no worms that live in your teeth. At least there shouldn't be. As we know now, cavities occur when there's a buildup of plaque on your teeth full of enamel-eating bacteria that cause your tooth to decay. While cavities are still around today, you don't need a giant ax or heavy sword to battle them. Regular brushing, flossing (sometimes referred to as interdental cleaning), and dental checkups are the proper way to defend yourself. It's amazing how good oral care can keep cavities from invading your teeth.

Everyone Has the Same Number of Teeth (Mostly)

Outside gender-specific parts, men and women are created equal. But ol' Aristotle thought differently. It's hard to be right about everything. For some reason, he thought men had more teeth than women. You read that right. But he would be wrong. Sorry, Ari. Men and women have the same number of teeth. You should know:

  • We all have 20 baby teeth that start popping up around 6 months of age, according to the American Dental Association
  • As we get older, our permanent teeth come in
  • Adults have 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth)

Now here's the tricky part to your personal number of teeth. Your wisdom teeth may not erupt. Sometimes, one may just come in, sometimes all 4, and sometimes none. If they do, they often cause overcrowding and sometimes are impacted below the gumline, causing swelling. This is why wisdom teeth removal surgery is so popular.

Your Primary and Permanent Teeth Start to Develop Before You're Even Born

It was also believed that your teeth don't start growing until your born. This, too, is a myth. Both your primary and permanent teeth are already present when you're a baby. Your wisdom teeth, however, do develop late during adolescence.

The world isn't flat. We did land on the moon. And worms don't cause cavities. It doesn't hurt to know this and other tidbits about your teeth. It also doesn't hurt to practice proper oral care to avoid those cavities. That's a fact your dentist can get behind.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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