Surprising dental facts you may not know.

When we talk about kids’ dentistry, we usually learn dental facts about how often we should brush our teeth or why flossing is important. Dr. Bruce Sexton wants you to know all of that important stuff but he also wants you to know some of the fun stuff, too!

For instance, there are about 74 million kids in America. If we imagine that all of them will grow and keep all 32 of their adult teeth, that’s over two billion teeth!

Have you ever thought about the first-ever toothbrush? What about how much we spend on chewing gum every year?

Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more with our 5 fun dental facts!

1. We spend how much on chewing gum?

Before the chewing gum we know and love today was invented, Native Americans chewed on the sap from spruce trees. When settlers came to New England, they picked up the habit, too.

By 1850, an American invented a product similar to the Native American’s sap only it was made from paraffin wax. (Paraffin wax is a petroleum product, which means it’s in the same family as the gas your parents put in their cars. Ew!)

We use very different ingredients nowadays to create our gum base. Then we add sweeteners or flavors to make gum taste good. Personally, we’re big fans of minty gum that doesn’t have too much sugar in it.

The question is, how well is chewing gum doing today? Pretty well, considering we spent about $32 billion worldwide on chewing gum products in 2019, alone!

Here in America, we account for about $3.9 billion of those sales. Chewing gum sells even better in Asia and Europe.

2. Who invented the first modern toothbrush?

People have been brushing their teeth for a long, long time. Before we had anything resembling a toothbrush, we used twigs and other scratchy things to get all that plaque off our teeth.

The first major upgrade was to ditch the twigs in favor of pig hairs, horse hairs, and even feathers. Weird, right? Actually, if you think about it, using those natural materials before we had synthetic bristles was pretty resourceful!

Even the first modern toothbrush used pig hair for bristles. They were attached to a handle made from cattle bone. This construction was created by Englishman William Addis in 1780.

We didn’t end up with synthetic bristles until a company called DuPont invented nylon in 1938. That’s what we continue to use today on manual and electric toothbrushes.

Would you ever use a toothbrush with feathers for bristles? It might tickle!

3. How long do we have baby teeth?

You might wonder why you have to take such good care of your baby teeth since they’re all going to fall out anyway. Your baby teeth started popping out of your gums when you were only six months old and most kids don’t lose them all until they’re 12. That’s a long time that you’ll be spending with those baby teeth!

It’s important to take care of your baby teeth because they’re doing what they can to stick to the right schedule. When your teeth start to wiggle, it’s a sign that your adult teeth are starting to say, “Hey! Let me out of here!”

The problem is that when you don’t keep your teeth nice and clean, they start to decay. If they decay, they might fall out too soon and your adult teeth won’t be ready to take their place. This is a big problem in children’s dentistry!

When you’ve got gaps for too long, the teeth around those gaps realize they’ve got room to twist and turn. Pretty soon, those twisting and turning teeth are taking up some of the room where your new teeth need to grow in. If this happens enough, you just might have to get braces someday.

4. How many kids are afraid of the dentist?

Are you a little nervous about going to the dentist? You’re not alone! One study found that over a third of kids under 14 had some level of dentist-phobia.

Now, that’s not to say that they were afraid of getting their teeth cleaned! Most kids noted that a normal checkup wasn’t what frightened them. Instead, it was procedures that involved things like drilling and injections that kids reacted fearfully to.

Want to know the most interesting part of this study? The kids who had already experienced things like drilling and injections were less fearful of them than the kids who hadn’t. In other words, if you have a big procedure coming up, it won’t be as bad as you think!

5. Why do kids have fewer cavities now?

Between 2015 and 2016, only 43% of kids had a cavity. In previous years, that number was higher.

So why aren’t kids getting as many cavities as they used to? Some dentists think it’s because parents are starting to take you guys to the dentist at an earlier point in your lives. We now recommend that once there are visible teeth, it’s time to go to the dentist, and parents are listening!

The other reason might be that kids are doing a good job of brushing and flossing. A good rule of thumb is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Then, follow up with some floss and make sure you’re getting between every tooth.

The better you take care of your teeth and gums, the less you’ll have to worry about cavities!

What are your favorite dental facts?

Are there any dental facts about pediatric dentistry that you want to share with us? Did you learn anything new today that you’re excited about?

Let’s chat about it next time you come in for your check-up. Mom or Dad can make an appointment here and we’ll set it all up for you soon!

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