Oral health is important and needs to be taken seriously, but there's always room for humour too. We've gathered some surprising facts and weird myths from around the world to celebrate the funny side of teeth.
1. Toothache? Kiss a donkey
Before modern dentistry, reliable treatments for toothaches were few and far between. Every country had its old wives' tales about dubious home remedies, but the strangest has to go to Germany in the Middle Ages, where one legend claimed that kissing a donkey would bring relief. Maybe if they kicked the offending tooth out...
2. Need dental work? Go to the barber
Moving away from legends into real history, if you wanted dental work done before the 19th century, your best bet was to visit the barber. The earliest 'dentists' were in fact barber-surgeons, whose expertise with cutting tools made them the most qualified professionals to perform extractions and other basic procedures. They could even produce dentures out of animal bones.
3. The longest recorded human tooth was 3.67cm
A new entry to the Guinness Book of World Records, 18-year-old Urvil Patel of Vadodara, India had a canine tooth removed in February this year that turned out to be the longest ever recorded at 3.67 centimetres. By contrast, the average human tooth is 2cm. The tooth took almost 30 minutes to extract using local anaesthesia.
4. Sharks can grow over 30,000 teeth in their lifetime
The more you learn about sharks, the more impressive and terrifying they get. Not only do they have multiple rows of razor sharp teeth – as many as 50 rows for a bull shark – but these teeth also get instantly replaced as soon as they're lost. Some of the largest sharks can shed approximately 35,000 teeth in their lifetime!
5. Wisdom teeth or 'love teeth?'
If you're wondering why third molars are called 'wisdom teeth' in English, this is actually a mistranslation. The Dutch term 'verstandskiezen,' that simply describes their position in the back of the mouth, was confused with the word for 'wise' ('verstand').
Other countries have their own terms and ideas for wisdom teeth. In Korea, they're known as 'love teeth' ('sarangnee') because they grow in early adulthood and are often accompanied by the first experiences of love and heartbreak.
6. Where do you throw your milk teeth?
When you were a child, did you put your milk teeth under the pillow for the tooth fairy? In many Asian countries, milk teeth are thrown – into the air if they were upper teeth, down to the ground for lower teeth.
In Turkey, children traditionally throw their teeth onto the roof. In Italy and across Latin America, children are told stories about the tooth mouse.
7. Crowded teeth are often considered attractive in Japan
Not every culture prizes straight and pearly white teeth. In 2011, The New York Times reported on a trend of Japanese women visiting their dentists to make their straight teeth appear more crowded. The 'yaeba' ('double tooth') look is considered cute by many people in the country, despite the problems crowded teeth can cause for oral health.
This isn't the first time Japanese preferences for smiles have favoured the unusual. In medieval Japan, black teeth were considered attractive, leading to many women staining their teeth with ink.
8. 'Bluetooth' was a Danish king
Bluetooth is the English translation of 'Blåtand,' the nickname given to a king in 10th century Denmark who supposedly ate blueberries so often that they stained his teeth blue.
While this story probably isn't true, his achievements unifying kingdoms are, and Bluetooth wireless technology was named in his honour. The famous Bluetooth logo features his initials in rune form.
9. Brad Pitt chipped his teeth on purpose for 'Fight Club'
Brad Pitt is known for his dedication to roles, but he went even further when he took on the part of the violent Tyler Durden in 1999's Fight Club. Entertainment Weekly reported at the time that the actor asked his dentist to chip his teeth, as he felt it would add credibility to his performance. His Hollywood smile was restored as soon as filming wrapped.
10. Are you a redhead? You may need more anaesthetic
Does the colour of your hair really affect how sensitive you are to pain? Apparently so, according to a 2002 study at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, USA. The researchers found that, on average, women with ginger hair required 20 percent more anaesthesia to numb pain during dental treatments compared to women with other hair colours. So make sure your dentist takes note!
Talk to our dentists in Perth's Northern Suburbs
Do you need to speak to a dentist? Contact Ocean Reef Dental Surgery on (08) 9307 6700 to make an appointment with our friendly team. You can also get in touch online.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner