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Random Facts #4: All about teeth

I'm not gonna bore you with the mundane facts about teeth like humans have two sets in their lifetime, specifically 20 baby (or "milk") teeth and 32 adult (or "permanent") teeth. Nor am I going to share about how proper oral hygiene prevents a host of health issues including heart disease. Instead, I am going to dazzle you with some off-the-wall and remotely interesting facts & figures about teeth and teeth-adjacent topics. So sit back and learn a little something, why don't ya. It's not gonna hurt.

1. Wanna dress up your smile? Ever thought about getting a tooth tattoo?? Yeah, me neither. However, if you're so inclined, go check out They've developed a method of tattooing on dental crowns for a unique look. I love the David Letterman shown above... with that in your mouth, how could every day not be a party? Also wondering why you want a picture of the Queen Mother or Tiger Woods in your mouth. Why? And take into account this incredulity is coming from someone with an Elvis tattoo. Anyway, go check out their site and see more examples.  

2. Steve Martin has provided us with more than one memorable, toothy movie moment including his classic turn as the demented dentist in Little Shop of Horrors - the perfect counterpart to Bill Murray's masochistic patient. Classic. He also starred in 2001s dark comedy,  Novocaine as yet another deluded dentist. This time he plays Dr. Frank Sangster, and gets accused of murder due to his involvement with a shady patient. The movie's not great but it's a good example of Steve showing off his more serious acting chops, plus, Laura Dern always brings the crazy. 

Interested in more dentist movies? What's wrong with you??? Well, lucky for you, there's no shortage for you to catch up on. Check out The Dentist with W.C. Fields, The Secret Lives of Dentists with Hope Davis and Campbell Scott, Bob Hope as Paleface, Alan Arkin in The In-Laws and Sam Waterston in Serial Mom

3. Prince Charles is way too important to squeeze his own toothpaste onto the royal toothbrush. Instead his personal valet, Michael Fawcett, is the only person Charles trusts with this awesome responsibility. One must presume that Charlie's morning breath and dental hygiene declines exponentially whenever the valet goes on vacation. Yikes.  []

4. China celebrates September 20th as a national holiday known as “Love Your Teeth Day.” That's a lot of teeth, people. If the average person has 25 teeth (accounting for children, etc), then that's approximately 33,457,487,500 teeth. 

5. Contrary to popular legend, our first president George Washington, did not have teeth made out of wood. Instead, he had many pairs of dentures made of all kinds of innovative materials including, of all things, hippopotamus teeth. He also had teeth made out of ivory, lead, human teeth, cow and sheep's teeth. Makes you wonder if he endured any level of lead poisoning and whether or not it affected his judgement. Lead teeth, think about that. Heavy. lol.

6. Cleaning one's teeth has been a concern since the beginning of time. You can't convince me that Adam and Eve didn't get  a strawberry seed wedged between two molars that drove them crazy enough to seek out a solution. Since the middle ages, people have used everything from burnt bread to ground-up chalk or charcoal, lemon juice, ashes and even a mixture of tobacco and honey to clean their teeth. In ancient times more primitive materials like bones & oyster shells did the abrasive work.  By 1900, a paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was recommended for use with toothbrushes. Pre-mixed toothpastes were first marketed in the 19th century, but did not surpass the popularity of tooth-powder until the 1920s. 

7. St. Apollonia is the patron saint of dentistry. In 249 AD Rome, a woman named Apollonia was tortured and killed for her Christian faith. Legend has it that “her tormentors broke her teeth with iron points, and extracted the roots with tongs.” The legend also says that after her teeth were broken, she was given a choice of renouncing her faith or being burned alive, whereupon she voluntarily jumped into the fire. Her suffering resulted in her canonization as the Patron Saint of Dentistry in 300 AD.

The following is a prayer to Saint Apollonia: “Apollonia, Apollonia, Holy Saint in Heaven, see my pain in yourself. Free me from evil pain, for my toothache may torture me to death.”

8. An elephant in the wild grinds his several-hundred-pound-a-day diet of vegetation with his four large molars, two uppers and two lowers. The wear-and-tear warranty on these molars is up after ten years as they are gradually worn down to the gum line and drop out. These are soon replaced by another set of grinding molars, but each elephant only gets up to six sets of molars within its lifetime. Each of these molars measures a foot across and weighs between 8 and 10 pounds. Sounds like it would have made a nice paperweight for Fred Flinstone.

9. There have been many many songs written about a smile, but only a few worth mentioning about teeth including Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie, Summerteeth by Wilco and maybe Skin O My Teeth by Megadeth. Below is my favorite submission,  Lady Gaga's homage to chomper charm, simply titled, Teeth.