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Not Just For Chewing: 4 Surprising Facts About Your Teeth

Most people don’t give their teeth much thought, at least until it’s time to go to the dentist, but our teeth are actually a unique and interesting part of our bodies – and they’re important for a lot more than just chewing our food. Why not take a deep dive into the hidden world of dentition, then, because from the goofy to the gross and the downright fascinating, there’s something for everyone to discover.

Your Teeth Are As Distinct As Your Fingerprints

If you’re a fan of crime TV, you’ve likely heard detectives call for a victim’s dental records. That’s because your teeth, as well as your tongue, are as distinctive as your fingerprints and they can be used to identify you. There are several different ways forensic dentistry experts do this, though the main approach involves comparing the basic architecture of dental fillings, missing teeth and other elements seen on dental X-rays. More advanced approaches involve analyzing something known as enamel rod patterns, and some workers in especially dangerous fields, such as those in the military, actually keep a tooth print on record just in case.

Your Teeth Can Be Used For Stem Cell Therapy

When we talk about using stem cells to treat diseases, we typically focus on one of several kinds, including fat-derived stem cells used in some regenerative therapies and those found in the bone marrow, which may be used in certain cancer treatments. However, our teeth also contain stem cells and you can even bank your children’s teeth, according to ToothBank, in case they need access to stem cell treatment later. Specifically, teeth contain mesenchymal stem cells, which can become dozens of different types of tissue and have been used to treat conditions as diverse as Type 1 diabetes and damage from heart attacks.

Your Teeth Are The Hardest Part Of Your Body

Given how many people never break a bone, yet have cracked and chipped teeth, it may be hard to believe, but your teeth actually contain the hardest substance in your body – enamel – as well dentin, which is also harder than your bones. Despite how hard they are, though, enamel is still particularly vulnerable, since it doesn’t grow back once it’s been damaged. That’s why it’s important to be careful when treating your teeth, including when whitening them, since any damage to the enamel can make your teeth vulnerable to worsening damage, cavities, and decay.

You Are Born With All Of Your Teeth

It makes sense that babies are born with their milk teeth already developed below the gumline, since infants typically begin teething between 5 and 8 months of age, but did you know that everyone is born with all of their teeth fully formed? Yes, even those big adult teeth are lurking somewhere underneath, even wisdom teeth, which don’t break through until the teen years. Adult teeth are actually formed in the fourth month of fetal development. As with so many surprising things about the human body, just because you can’t see all those teeth doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Whether or not you’re excited about the unusual world of oral anatomy, such insights are a good reminder to take care of our teeth. Though we may be able to grow new ones someday, care of those stem cells, for now, the ones you’re born with are the only teeth you’ll ever have.