Facts About Your Teeth and Gums That Will Surprise You

These surprising facts about your teeth, gums, and other aspects of your oral health are true but not commonly known.

The health of your teeth and gums are essential to your overall physical and mental well-being. You can never know too much when it comes to your dental care and dentistry in general. In that spirit, we have compiled a series of interesting and unusual facts about your teeth and gums. Some of these are sure to surprise you, and some are downright bizarre and perhaps even good conversation starters.

Brushing Your Teeth

  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day and flossing once.
  • If you adhere to the ADA guideline, you spend 38.5 days over your life brushing your teeth.
  • But 41.4% of adults do not follow that guideline and increase their risk of tooth decay by 33%.
  • A standard toothbrush has 2,500 bristles, give or take a few.
  • Americans purchase 14 million gallons of toothpaste annually.
  • The Chinese invented the first bristled-toothbrush using bristles from pigs and other animals.
  • After being sick, replacing your toothbrush can substantially reduce the risk of falling ill again.
  • The average person brushes for only about 45 to 70 seconds all day!
  • The ADA recommends 2-3 minutes of brush time!

Flossing Your Teeth and Gums

  • Floss you can buy in a store was not invented until 1882.
  • Floss was used as far back as the early 1800s and often made of silk.
  • Only 28% of people report flossing every day. How many of them are fibbing?
  • Americans purchase more than 3 million miles of dental floss each year.
  • If you skip flossing, you miss 40% of the surface area where plaque and tartar can accumulate.


  • According to research, smiling is more contagious than the flu.
  • The average woman smiles 62 times a day.
  • The average man only smiles 8 times a day. 🙁
  • Children average 400 laughs a day. Adults manage it just 15 times.
  • 48% of young adults have untagged a Facebook pic due to being self-conscious about their smiles.
  • You need 43 muscles to frown but just 17 to smile!
  • 61% of adults have reported a smile as the reason they are attracted to someone.

Oral Health

  • Tooth decay is second only to the common cold as the most prevalent disease.
  • About 85% of all cases of bad breath are caused by an underlying dental problem.
  • Smoking cigarettes can change the way you perceive taste.
  • Smokers are thrice as likely to lose their teeth at some point in their lives.
  • Smokers are also as much as seven times as likely to develop periodontal disease.
  • Only 61.8 percent of Americans schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Americans spent more than $124 billion in dental expenses in 2016 alone.
  • Coconut is a naturally occurring antibacterial that can reduce your risk of cavities and gingivitis.
  • About 75% of school-age children throughout the world have cavities in their teeth.
  • About 65 million Americans suffer from gum disease: 38.4% female and 56.4% male.
  • Women with gum disease are at seven times greater risk of preterm birth or low birth weight.
  • 95% of Americans with diabetes have periodontal disease as well.
  • People with gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
  • Children in America miss 51 million hours of school each year due to dental problems.
  • North American children chew $500 million worth of gum each year.
  • Americans purchase $25 billion worth of candy in 2010 alone.
  • $25 billion is more than the combined GNP of Costa Rica, Lithuania, and Mozambique.
  • People who drink 36 oz. or more of soda daily are 62% more prone to tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • The daily recommended sugar intake is 4 teaspoons. A can of soda contains 10-12 tsp.
  • 78% of Americans experienced at least one dental cavity by the time they turned 17.
  • Sports-related dental injuries account for 5 million missing teeth each year.
  • 90% of all systemic diseases can manifest in the oral cavity.
  • Americans spend 100 billion annually on hair care products.
  • In contrast, Americans spend only $2 billion a year on dental care.

Peculiar Facts

  • Tooth and tongue prints are just as unique as fingerprints.
  • Americans choke more often on toothpicks than any other objects.
  • The tongue is the only fully formed organ at the time of birth.
  • Saliva glands produce about 10,000 gallons of saliva in a lifetime—enough to fill a huge swimming pool.
  • Dental plaque consists of more than 300 unique types of bacteria!
  • In order, Americans buy the most candy during Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day.
  • In the middle ages, people believed that kissing a donkey could cure a toothache.
  • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.
  • About 25% of American adults have no teeth at all.
  • Your baby and permanent teeth are already developing while you are still in the womb.
  • The bacteria count in your mouth is greater than the world population.
  • On average, a person who drinks one can of soda a day will gain 15 pounds a year.
  • Dinosaurs could grow new teeth when their current ones were lost or broken.
  • A fossilized T. Rex tooth can weigh as much as a pound.
  • Romans circa 200 A.D. used a mixture of bones, eggshells, oysters, and honey to clean their teeth.
  • A snail has a mouth smaller than a pinhead. It can also have more than 25,000 teeth!
  • A prison inmate in West Virginia in 1994 used braided dental floss as a rope to scale a wall and escape.
  • In the 1800s, barbers and blacksmiths were still serving as dentists in many areas.
  • George Washington had dentures made from gold, ivory, lead as well as donkey, hippo and human teeth.
  • A dentist co-invented cotton candy—called Fairy Floss—for the 1904 World’s Fair. Oh, the irony!
  • The earliest dentist we know by name is Hesy-re. He lived in Egypt around 3000 B.C.
  • The phrase “cat got your tongue” originates in Assyria. The tongues of criminals and enemy soldiers were fed to the king’s cats.
  • Gums, stone chips, and even turpentine resin have been used to fill cavities.
  • The taste bud lifespan is about 10 days. Don’t worry. You’ll grow new ones.
  • 60% of people do not know that a sore jaw accompanied by chest pain can indicate a heart attack.
  • In 1816, a Sir Isaac Newton tooth was sold for $3,633—about $35,700 today—and set in a ring.
  • Following a spicy meal with a spoonful of sugar can ease the burning sensation.
  • A spoonful of sugar added to a base can also make cut flowers last longer.
  • Dolphins grab with their teeth but do not chew with them since they lack jaw muscles.
  • Cats have 30 teeth. Dogs have 42 teeth. Pigs have 44 teeth. Armadillos have 104 teeth.
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.
  • It was not unusual in the British Isles to extract the teeth at an early age because you were expected to lose them prior to marriage anyway.
  • Modern toothpaste is only about 100 years old.
  • The Ancient Greeks made toothpaste from alabaster, coral powder, talc, pumice, and even iron rust.
  • The earliest known dental implants are from 600 A.D. The Mayans hammered shell pieces into the jaw.

Learn More About Your Dental Health

Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence hopes that you have learned something from all these fun, interesting, and sometimes peculiar dental facts. It is important to be well-educated about your oral health because it is strongly linked to your overall health. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is among the leading dentists in the Greater Scottsdale area. Dr. Clark can provide you personalized advice as well as all of the preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental care that you may need. Call us today at 480 585 1853.

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