As a dentist, I love to reach out to my patients in new and interesting ways. Your oral health is a serious matter, but we also enjoy having fun and teaching our patients about all things related to dentistry — even a few obscure facts. Today and later this week, I want to remove some dental facts that you probably didn’t know. I hope this will change the way you view dentistry. You’ll learn some history about dentistry, great trivia facts, and also learn about some modern ways we can change your smile.

Today I’ll have five dental facts for you, and I’ll continue my list later in the week. Keep these facts handy. You might use them in a game of Trivia Pursuit or during your next visit to the dentist. Here we go!

1. Sharks do not get cavities. More than 90 percent of humans will struggle with cavities in their lives, and yes, virtually all animals with teeth can suffer from tooth decay — with the exception of one. The shark. Sharks are known for having several rows of teeth, but scientist also have found no signs of tooth decay in sharks. The reason is that shark teeth are coated with fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral that is known to reduce the risk of tooth decay. We humans do not have natural fluoride in our teeth, but you can reduce your risk of cavities by receiving fluoride treatments at the dentist. We highly recommend fluoride treatments for children, so they can start their dental journey off on the right foot.

2. Floss is a strong tool. Floss is traditionally used for cleaning debris from between your teeth. But a West Virginia man once used floss as part of his jail break. In 1994, the man braided floss into a rope and then used the rope to escape from jail. The man was on the loose for a few days but later caught. We recommend that you use floss for its intended purpose — to clean your teeth and reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease.

3. We produce 25,000 quarts of saliva in our lifetimes. This may not seem like a dental fact, but saliva does have positive effects on your oral health. Saliva helps reduce the bacteria levels in our mouths and remove food debris. People who do not have healthy saliva levels often suffer from dental decay or even gum disease.

4. About 25 percent of children enter kindergarten without ever having been to the dentist. There is an epidemic in this country of dental disease in children. Dental disease is the leading chronic disease in children and can lead to missed hours of class instruction or even painful dental problems. We make sure that our children have certain vaccines before entering kindergarten, but it appears that some parents are missing the mark when it comes to their child’s oral health. It’s possible that many patients believe that baby teeth are not important. That’s simply not true. Baby teeth are important. Dental problems in baby teeth can cause issues with the development of permanent teeth. Additionally, baby teeth contain nerves just like permanent teeth. Dental problems can be painful. So keep your children out of pain by getting them to the dentist early in their lives. We recommend that parents bring their children to the dentist before the child is 2 years old. From there, we can access the mouth as the teeth develop and then set up necessary cleanings and treatments.

5. We don’t brush enough. We dentists recommend that people brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, we Americans do not hit that mark. In fact, we only brush for about 45 to 70 seconds at a time. That means most of us only brush for about half as long as we should. You can better meet these recommended brushing guidelines by setting a timer on your phone or using a mobile app to help you with your at-home oral hygiene routine.

These are just a few facts about your dental health that you need to keep in mind. As a dentist, I love speaking with patients about the ways in which they can improve their smile. I’ll have some more amazing dental facts later this week. If you’re ready to schedule a visit with our office, call us today at 248-972-8720.