How well do you know the world of teeth? Take a look at 110 items of teeth trivia and fun dental trivia and facts. We cover everything from animal teeth trivia to dental history trivia.
(Thanks for the trivia, Clearwater dentist, Dr. Jergins of ClearWhite Dental!)
After you make it through the list, Dr. Jergins, a top dentist in Clearwater, Florida is ready to answer any questions you might have about your own teeth. So call him today at ClearWhite Dental at 727-791-8823.
And now, enjoy a long list of dental trivia and dental facts! If you have any more to add, please let us know! We think there are 110 here, but if you count them and find differently, please call us at ClearWhite Dental!
Animal Teeth Trivia and Facts
- Different animals have different amounts of teeth; armadillos have 104; cats, 30; dogs, 42; and pigs have 44 teeth.
- Boar, badger, and horse hair were used years ago for toothbrush bristles but were later found to be abrasive and harsh.
- People don’t chew up and down; they chew side to side just like cows chew.
- Alligators and crocodiles can be told apart by their teeth. Alligator teeth are conical shaped for grabbing and holding prey. Alligators swallow their food whole. Crocodiles’ fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw projects outside the snout when the mouth is closed.
- An African elephant’s pair of tusks can weigh 465 pounds. Each of its molars can weigh 12 pounds and be 7” square. Elephants grind down their molars and grow new ones up to six times in their lifetimes.
- All bats have spiky teeth.
- The Crocodile Bird flies into a crocodile’s open mouth and cleans its teeth.
- Scientists count rings on a dolphin’s teeth to determine its age. The long-snouted spinner dolphin has as many as 252 teeth.
- During the Middle Ages in Germany, people believed that kissing a donkey relieved toothaches.
- Giraffes have 32 permanent teeth, the same as humans. But, their teeth can measure 17 inches long.
- The Great Barracuda (wolf of the sea) can grow more than six feet long. Barracudas’ huge, powerful teeth can damage property and can injure people.
- If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on February 2 (groundhog day), there will be six more weeks of winter. Groundhogs have four large incisor teeth for biting off vegetation and gnawing through roots. They also have 19 teeth for chewing.
- With its 20-inch-long teeth, a hippo can bite a small boat in half.
- Insects’ teeth are called fangs or mandibles. Some insects also have teeth in their gizzard to help grind up food.
- Komodo dragons are large, fierce reptiles that live in Indonesia. Using their serrated teeth, they eat almost anything. Their bacteria-filled mouths can cause fatal infections in their victims.
- Lions have 30 teeth, including four large pointed teeth (canines). Instead of molars, they have four carnassials which work like scissors for cutting food. The rest of their teeth are conical shaped. Lions don’t chew their food because their jaws can’t move from side to side.
- Minnows have teeth in their throats.
- Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.
- Sharks may grow 20,000 teeth in a lifetime. Each Great White has several rows of jagged, triangular-shaped teeth – up to 3,000 teeth. The teeth of the great white shark measure three inches long. Whenever a tooth is broken or lost, the one behind moves forward so that the shark always has a full set of teeth. They use their teeth to rip off large chunks of meat and swallow whole. While the largest shark, the 40-foot whale shark has the smallest teeth – only 1/8th of an inch high.
- Sheep feed mainly on grass, alfalfa, corn, and grain sorghum. If a sheep’s teeth become too worn down, the sheep can die from starvation. While adult sheep have 32 permanent teeth, lambs have twenty temporary teeth.
- Snails are very small, but they have thousands of tiny teeth all lined up in rows.
- Snakes’ teeth are sharp and slanted backwards which keeps prey from escaping. Non-poisonous snakes have four rows of teeth on top and on the bottom. Pit vipers have fangs with a canal running through them and with an opening near the tip. Muscles hold the snake’s poison gland and force the poison through the canal and out the tip. North American pit vipers have two rows of teeth on the top and on the bottom.
- Spiders have fangs, instead of teeth. They quickly kill their prey (usually insects) with fangs and poison.
- After wintering in Argentina, swallows return to California’s Mission San Juan Capistrano each year on March 19. Swallows, like all modern birds, have no teeth. They “chew” their food by swallowing tiny bits of gravel. The gravel chews the food internally. The last time that a bird-like creature could actually bite was about 90 million years ago.
- Turtles today do not have teeth, but fossils of prehistoric turtles do have teeth. Some turtles, such as the alligator snapping turtle, have sharp beaks and srtong jaws.
- Walrus tusks can weigh 12 pounds.
- The largest toothed whale is the 70-ton sperm whale which has 36 to 60 teeth, all in its lower jaw. Each tooth can be more than eight inches long. The tusk of the male narwhal, an Arctic whale, is more than eight feet long. The Blue Whale is the largest mammal on earth; yet, it eats only tiny shrimp because it has no teeth for chewing.
Dental History Trivia, and Dentistry History Facts
- There is evidence that dentistry has been practiced since 7000 BC.
- Until the 18th century during the European Age of Enlightenment, cavities and other forms of tooth decay were thought to be caused by a ‘tooth worm.”
- The earliest evidence of dental care comes from a prehistoric farming village, Mahrgarh, in what is now Pakistan. A total of eleven teeth from nine adults who lived between 7,500 and 9,000 years ago were excavated and contained holes drilled with sharpened flint points.
- The ancient Chinese wrapped tiny pieces of parchment around painful teeth, all of which contained written prayers and incantations.
- The ancient Greeks devised pliers for extracting teeth.
- Ancient cultures chewed on twigs or roots to clean their teeth.
- In the Middle Ages, people believed that dogs’ teeth boiled in wine made an excellent mouth rinse to prevent tooth decay.
- Egyptians used a form of toothpaste over 5,000 years ago.
- During the Dark Ages (400-1400 AD) many people believed that they could grow a new tooth by “implanting” one obtained from someone else – ideally from a hanged criminal.
- Francisco Goya, a famous Spanish artist, depicts a morbid dental custom of his time in the painting, “A Caza de Dientas” (tooth hunting). Dentists transported live teeth often stolen from the recently deceased into their patients’ empty alveolar sockets.
- Some other common tooth remedies from ancient times include boiling earthworms in oil and to put the oil drops into the ears and to tighten loose teeth required tying a frog to your jaw.
- In ancient Egyptian times, wealthy people were more likely to suffer from toothaches, as they were the only ones who could afford sweets.
- Among the first known dentists in the world were the Etruscans. In 700 BC, they carved false teeth from the teeth of various mammals and produced partial bridges strong enough for people to eat.
- The earliest record of tooth decay was described by the Sumarians as “tooth worms.” There is also evidence that around 2700 BC, Chinese acupuncture was used to treat tooth pain.
- In ancient times, people used combination tooth/ear pickers made of bone, quills, silver, or gold. These “dentiscalpias” were used freely by even the best-mannered citizens (similar to people today using tooth picks in public).
- The Chinese are credited with inventing the first toothbrushes in the late 1400s.If you lived in the Middle Ages, you would have visited a barber for shaves, haircuts, and tooth extractions. Since barbers performed both haircutting and surgery, they were called barber-surgeons.The earliest dentist known by name is Hesi-Re who lived in Egypt over 5,000 years ago.In 1840, the world’s first dental school opened in Baltimore, MD.
- In 1866, Lucy Hobbs was the first woman in the world to earn a D. D. S. degree from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to that, only men were allowed to practice dentistry.
- In 1905 dental assistant Irene Newman was trained to clean teeth. She became the first dental hygienist.
- The first nylon bristled toothbrush with a plastic handle was invented in 1938 by Dupont.
- The first American to get a patent for a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth.
- Colgate introduced aromatic toothpaste in a jar in 1873.
- Colgate dental cream was packaged in collapsible tubes in 1896.
- Not too long ago, dentures were common wedding gifts in the British Isles. At that time, many people expected to lose all their teeth and had their teeth extracted at an early age.
- The electric toothbrush first appeared in 1939.
- In colonial days, debtors were shipped from Europe to America to work as servants. Instead of signing a contract, they sealed their agreement by leaving their dental imprint in wax.
Celebrity / Famous Dentists Trivia and Fun and Interesting Facts
- This report from The Telegraph in the UK: Rather than subjecting herself to the usual American-style treatment in order to create a perfect set of teeth, she reportedly placed herself in the hands of a pioneering French dentist who specialises in what is called “harmonious asymmetry”.The work was apparently carried out by Didier Fillion, a London-based dental surgeon who has also worked with the teeth of Kelly Brook, Sadie Frost and John Galliano.
- In 2002, Tom Cruise decided to improve the appearance of his famous smile. After taking one of his children to the orthodontist, he decided to wear clear, ceramic braces, which he needed for about a year.
- In 1975, Dr. Ted Aspes, a pediatric dentist in Smyma, Georgia, encouraged his young patients to excel. He promised to provide each child in town with a tube of toothpaste when one of his former patients won a major award, like the Heisman Trophy or was named a Rhodes scholar. On March 21, 2001, former patient, Julia Roberts, received the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Erin Brockovich. Anticipating her win, Dr. Aspes had ordered 10,000 tubes of mint-flavored Crest toothpaste.
- The most valuable tooth belonged to Sir Isaac Newton. In 1816 one of his teeth was sold in London for $3,633.00 or in today’s terms, $35,700.00. The tooth was set in a ring. In November 2011, John Lennon’s discolored tooth was sold at auction for $31,200.00 to Dr. Michael Zuk, a Canadian dentist. Lennon gave the tooth to Dorothy “Dot” Jarlett who was his housekeeper between 1964 – 1968.
- Queen Elizabeth I’s teeth were noticeably discolored. Paul Henter, a German traveler, speculated that the discoloration was due to the Queen’s excessive consumption of sugar, making the first recorded association between sugar and tooth decay.
- Frank Zappa’s song, “Montana,” is about living in that state “just to raise me up a crop of dental floss.”
- James Dean, a 1950s heart throb, had no front teeth; he wore a bridge.
- George Washington, the first president of the United States, was Dr. Greenwood’s most famous patient. President Washington had several sets of dentures made after he lost teeth. He suffered from toothaches all of his life, and his famous quick temper may have been result of this pain. By the time of his inauguration in 1790, Washington had only one tooth, his lower left bicuspid. A hole in his lower denture allowed this natural tooth to stick out. The dentures were made out of ivory, not wood.
- When it was time for President George Washington to sit for his presidential painting, the artist, Gilbert Stuart, thought that his dentures were too short, making his cheeks and lips look sunken. He padded Washington’s cheeks and lips with cotton to restore the natural lines to his face. The result is Washington’s face looks overstuffed and grandmotherly.
- Author John Steinbeck neglected his dental care for years and suffered with dental pain for part of his life.
- Mick Jagger had an emerald chip put in the middle of his upper right incisor, but people thought it was spinach caught in his teeth. So, he changed it to a ruby until he tired of people thinking it was a drop of blood. He settled on a diamond.
- Jill St. John, Jack Klugman, Diana Ross, Carol Burnett, and Cher have all worn braces as adults.
- In 1904, Pearl Grey, a dentist in New York, published his first book himself when he couldn’t find a publisher. After the book was a hit, he closed his practice to write full time and adopted the pseudonym Zane Grey. He ultimately wrote more than 60 books and became known as one of the most prolific authors of Westerns.
- Grant Wood’s classic painting American Gothic depicts a spinster and her stern, pitchfork-wielding farmer father. The model for the woman was Wood’s sister, Nan; and the model for the father was Wood’s dentist.
- Paul Revere who was known for his famous midnight ride to warn that the British soldiers were approaching and for his work as a silversmith advertised his dental services in a Boston newspaper.
- Doc Holiday helped Wyatt Earp win the OK Corral shoot out.
- George Grant invented the wooden golf tee.
- The defenders of the Alamo were the first to try chewing gum in America. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator who fought Davy Crockett and his Texas comrades, introduced modern-day chewing gum. His version of chewing gum was chicle, the latex sap of the sapodilla tree.
Dental Forensics Trivia and Facts
- Paul Revere is the first American known to use dental forensics to identify the body of a colonial colonel, Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and buried in an unmarked grave with several other soldiers. A year after the battle, the bodies were discovered, and the body was identified by the bridgework (a silver and ivory dental bridge made by Paul Revere).
- Teeth are harder than bone and are the last part of the body to be broken down. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.
- Every person has a set of teeth as unique as his/her fingerprints. Forensic dentistry is an integral part of most CSI departments.
- According to legend, William the Conqueror used to secure his mail with sealing wax imprinted with his bitemark. His teeth were maligned which created a distinctive pattern which made it easy to determine the authenticity of his letters and documents.
- Yersinia pestis is the bacterium which causes bubonic plague. In recent years, scientists have been trying to ascertain if the epidemics of Black Death during the Middle Ages were actually bubonic plague or some other disease. To investigate this, bodies of alleged plague victims were exhumed, and the tooth pulp extracted. Because teeth are so resistant to decomposition, the DNA can be remarkably well preserved, even after centuries. In some cases, the tooth pulp confirmed the presence of DNA from Yersinia pestis. However, in many cases, it appears that plague was not the cause of death.
Dental Health Trivia and Facts
- 90% of systemic diseases have oral manifestations.
- Regular dental cleanings can help prevent heart attacks.
- Tooth decay is the second most common disease in the U. S. after the common cold.
- Not only is tooth decay the second most common and most widespread disease, but also it is the oldest. Skulls of pre-historic humans have been examined, and tooth decay was found.
- As a direct result of water fluoridation and over-the-counter fluoride products, half of children entering the first grade today have never had a single cavity. Compare that statistic with 36% in 1980 and 28% in the early 1970s.
Dental Number Facts and Trivia
- The average human produces 25,000 quarts of saliva (spit) in a lifetime. That is enough saliva to fill two regular-sized swimming pools. (Sorry we included this one!)
- The Statue of Liberty’s mouth is three feet wide.
- A sneeze flies out of your mouth at over 600 mph.
- 100 years ago 50% of adults in North America were toothless.
- Today, less than 10% of adults over age 65 have lost teeth.
- If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 35% of your tooth surfaces.
- Jaw muscles can contract with a force as great as 55 pounds of pressure on anterior incisors and 200 pounds of pressure on back molars.
- Approximately, $2 billion a year is spent on dental products in the U. S.
Smile Facts and Smile Trivia
- Flossing keeps teeth cleaner, thus, a nicer appearance. Americans annually purchase about three million miles of dental floss – enough to stretch the floss to the moon and back six times.
- In 1986, the winner of the National Spelling Bee won by spelling “odontalgia.” (What does it mean? Toothache!)
- An obscure law in Vermont requires women to obtain written permission from their husbands to wear dentures.
- It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.
Dental Terms Trivia and Facts
- Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) was discovered as medicine’s first anesthetic in 1844by Dr. Horace Wells, a dentist in Hartford, CT. He witnessed a public demonstration of the gas at a traveling novelty show and became convinced of its medical possibilities. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Wells asked a colleague to extract one of his molars while he was under the influence of laughing gas. When he awakened, Dr. Wells said, “I didn’t feel it so much as the prick of a pin. A new era in tooth-pulling has arrived!”
- It isn’t a compliment when someone says, “You have dragon breath.” It means to have extremely bad breath, often caused by eating spicy foods or onions and garlic.
- “Long in the tooth” meaning “old” was originally used to describe horses. As a horse ages, his/her gums recede giving the impression that the teeth are growing in length.
- A mulberry molar is a tooth with more than the usual four cusps.
- Pizza palate refers to the soreness that results when a person burns his/her mouth on melted mozzarella.
- Tinsel teeth” and “metal mouth” refer to wearing orthodontic braces.
- Teeth that are too white are often called “chiclets.” (You’ll never get these from Dr. Jergins at ClearWhite Dental!)
- “Putting one’s money where one’s mouth is” means to provide proof of a statement.
- To sink your teeth into something means to put full effort into the project.
- To lie through one’s teeth means to lie boldly.
Tooth Fairy Trivia and Tooth Fairy Fun Facts
- In the days before the Tooth Fairy, children in England and in Australia dropped their first baby tooth into a mouse hole in the belief it would keep them free from toothache.
- The average amount of money left by the tooth fairy in 1900 was 12 cents; in 1950, 25 cents. In 1988, it was $1.00. According to Delta Dental’s Tooth Fairy Poll, in 2013 that amount was $3.51.
Thanks to the Colorado Springs Dental Society for supplying most of these fun dental facts and trivia!