You probably have a great wiggly tooth story to tell. Something hilarious, likely to involve some string, a remote control car, a dog, or maybe a wily older sibling. Whatever your story, those baby teeth started growing before you even had a brain! Let’s talk about why teeth are marvels of the human body.

Unless you have a problem with them, you probably don’t give your teeth a second thought. But your chompers are the result of some remarkable biological and chemical processes. Before you had a brain, special cells started building your teeth. And they could very likely be the artifact you leave behind for millennia to come!

So, let’s explore this fascinating story of how teeth grow and stick around!

Image: Little boy holding tooth with a big smile now missing front tooth

Source: Dr. Lynda Ulrich // Ever Widening Circles

Full disclosure, I grew up in a household where teeth were the constant topic of conversation. My parents are both dentists, so I spent much of my childhood in a dental office or listening to people talk about all the things one could possibly say about teeth. (I even had a few occasions where adults would come up to me and ask for dental advice.)

As a lover of biology, I also grew up fascinated with how the teeth of different animals differed based on the foods they ate. My mother had a marvelous collection of animal skulls that she used in school presentations about anatomy. I would spend hours comparing the teeth of herbivores to the ones of carnivores and cross-referencing them with models of human teeth I’d stolen from my parents’ office. Suffice to say, I find teeth and tooth-related matters to be fascinating.

Yet with all of this toothy background, I had no idea how teeth grew! It is a weird and wonderful process that most of us are completely in the dark about.

It’s easy for us to take for granted the wonders of biology that seem so mundane on the surface of it all. But it turns out, knowing a little bit more about our teeth and how they wind up the way they do gives you an entirely new appreciation for the wonders of the human body!

So, even if your not a tooth fan, you will be after watching this great video from one of the best YouTube Channels out there, It’s Okay to be Smart.

300 million-year-old teeth!

Have you ever considered how remarkable it is that we can still hold the enamel laid down by that ancient shark’s cells after all this time!

Millions of years from now, the enamel sitting in my mouth or yours will still be here, ready for study or found by our future ancestors. It’s an odd record to leave behind, but one that is incredibly telling. Our teeth say a lot about where we grew up, what we ate, and how we lived our lives!

Teeth have actually been a remarkably valuable part of the record of how the earth has changed. Indeed ancient dental remains are frequently studied to understand how everything fits together. Here’s a wonderful, short piece to give us a lasting perspective!

If you want to learn more about that incredible field of study, jump over to this article we wrote on the topic!

6 minutes

Your Smile is a Storyteller

When it comes to decoding the history of humanity, did you know ancient teeth are some of our greatest assets? Yes, the humble tooth can provide us with an incredible window into the past!

Read More

Teeth are also a fascinating look into our evolutionary history!

And they are a great place to get curious about how humans have adapted over the years. Have you ever wondered why you have wisdom teeth? Yep, there’s some pretty interesting biology happening there too.

If you’re curious and want to learn more I can recommend you check out this article about some of the other odd ancient quirks our body has that hint at our ancient past.

6 minutes

Wiggle Your Ears and You’re a Natural History Museum!

Take a quick break today to recognize the wonder of your inner lemur. Your body, in so many ways, is a walking demonstration of the scope of eternity!

Read More

So, now you know a little bit more about the body you walk around in!

From learning how teeth grow to exploring our microbiomes, the human body continues to be fascinating. It’s remarkable how much we take for granted. Most of us, myself included, know so little about the bodies we walk around in every day!

Sometimes you’ll find wonder in completely unexpected places.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Have your own hilarious tooth story?

Give this article a share and tell us about it by tagging us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! We love to hear from our readers (and love a good story to read as a team).

Notes:

  1. It’s Okay To Be Smart. “Where Do Teeth Come From?” YouTube, It’s Okay To Be Smart, 9 Oct. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNrVVHzJOSc. Accessed 8 July 2019.
  2. biointeractive. “What Can Fossil Teeth Tell Us? – HHMI BioInteractive Video.” YouTube, Biointeractive, 24 Apr. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtPWK4k_CME. Accessed 11 July 2019.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV