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Facts about Your Mouth - Photo: Chatelaine

The mouth is fundamental to our survival as a species and as individuals, as it is where we take in oxygen, digest food, and engage in spoken and nonverbal forms of communication and social interaction.

KnowInsider.com hopes you like the following list of mouth-related facts and trivia. Listen in!

1.The tongue is the only muscle that works without support from the skeleton

There are technically eight muscles in the tongue, four of which are intrinsic (they make up the tongue) and four of which are extrinsic (they help move the tongue around) (attaching the tongue to other structures in the mouth and throat). These muscles allow the tongue to contract and relax, curl and uncurl, and (in some people) even roll in an astonishing variety of ways. Without these motions, it would be considerably more challenging to speak and eat.

2.People used to believe tooth pain was caused by tooth worms

Many people, prior to the advent of modern dentistry, thought that a worm lived in their gums and caused cavities by digging into their teeth. Its movement, they thought, was painful. This myth has been debunked by modern research; we now know that neglecting your teeth's health causes cavities and toothaches.

3.Everyone has (pretty much) the same number of teeth

Every human is born with a full set of 20 teeth, 20 of which will ultimately fall out to make room for the permanent set of 32 adult teeth. When people's third molars, or wisdom teeth, begin to erupt, that's when the subtle distinctions become noticeable. Most adults have between zero and four wisdom teeth, and some researchers even predict that this number will eventually decrease.

4.Our sense of taste needs saliva to work!

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Photo: BioEd Online

We have approximately 10,000 taste buds in our mouths, most of which are on our tongues, but they can’t taste anything until molecules from the food we eat dissolve in our spit! Only then can the chemicals be detected by receptors on taste buds.

5.You only see about two thirds of your teeth

A third of your tooth, known as the root, is hidden beneath your gums. Because there is so much more tooth than meets the eye, it’s vitally important to keep your gums healthy to promote your overall oral health!

6.Your enamel is the hardest substance in your body

Made up of mineralized tissues, this stuff is tougher than nails. Enamel is designed to help us chew and tear through our food, but it still has its weaknesses. When not cared for, enamel can chip under pressure or decay due to plaque and bacteria.

7.Teeth start to develop before we’re born

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Photo: Dear Doctor Magazine

Baby teeth begin to form as early as six weeks into fetal development, and adult teeth start to form at twelve weeks. It takes many more months for baby teeth to fully form and erupt. Adult teeth take years, slowly developing as the child grows and there’s more room for these new teeth.

8.There are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people on Earth

Imagine how your mouth bacteria may feel, if you think city streets are crowded. It is estimated that between 500 and 650 distinct species of bacteria call your mouth home. Biofilms inhabit the teeth and tongue and also coat the oral mucosa and cheeks. The microbiome (the healthy bacteria in your body) includes these microbes, which are beneficial to your health.

9.Your tongue print is as unique as your fingerprint

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Photo: Factourism

There's something unusual about the mouth. While it's highly doubtful that your local police department will begin taking tongue prints, study and testing are underway on a 3-D imaging system that could one day be used for this purpose. People don't usually walk about leaving tongue prints, so that probably won't catch on as a way to recognize people, but hey, you never know! In a similar vein, no two mouths contain the identical collection of teeth.

10.Your teeth are alive

Teeth, like bones, are alive and susceptible to decay and loss. Each tooth has its own circulation system and nerves. Because they are living, your teeth can mend injuries just like any other part of your body. Sugar and harmful bacteria impede the healing enzymes in your saliva that help your teeth.

Our ancestors needed their wisdom teeth

Prehistoric leaves, roots, nuts, and meats needed higher chewing force and led to excessive wear of the teeth; anthropologists suggest that wisdom teeth evolved as a response to this. Wisdom teeth are no longer necessary because of the current diet, which consists primarily of softer foods and also makes use of underappreciated technological marvels like forks, spoons, and knives. One, two, three, four, or even more than four wisdom teeth may develop in certain persons, while this is not the norm.

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