• rymerws

Used and Abused

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

What exactly are our teeth for?


Well, the helpful people at Wikipedia tell us that they are for "mechanically break down items of food by cutting and crushing them in preparation for swallowing and digesting."


Is that it? They can do so much more! According to research by Phillips and the Oral health foundation 65% of us have managed to find alternative uses for our teeth. They are like a Swiss army knife, multi-functional apparatus for the modern home. 41% of us use them for cutting sellotape. What a fantastic idea, I know a lot of rolls of Sellotape come with a small blade attached for that very job, but that is genius. Maybe occasionally the gift we are wrapping may end up a little moist from the saliva, and occasionally the strip of Sellotape will shred resulting in a taped face or a mouthful of tape, but that's rare.



Any other possibilities? 26% of us use them for biting our nails. Nail clippers can't be found? Nail scissors gone AWOL? Perfect, who knew we had such a fantastically convenient set of nail clippers embedded in our gums. Never mind that the nails harbour all sorts of pathogenic bacteria thought to contribute to gum disease and gastroenteritis. The nail clippers would just chop a boring, neat curved finish to the top of the nail, by doing it with our teeth we can produce custom bespoke gnashed edges that are one of a kind.


Nail biting

Here's another. Just bought a new T-shirt or a coat? Pesky tag still attached - that annoying little plastic dongle with the price? Well rather than pulling it out and risking pulling the threads, 20% of us just chow down on it. Scissors all the way over in the kitchen drawer, or in the kids stationary - why walk all the way across the room when you can just attack it like a rabid grizzly bear! Of course this approach could see shards of plastic wedging into the interproximal space between the teeth, or fracture a filling or veneer, but think of the convenience!!


Chewing pencils (16%). This one isn't really a use, but what better way to stimulate the grey matter during an exam or whilst you are doing your homework, than nibbling the end of the pencil like a rodent. Do you know why mice chew wood - to wear down their teeth. Can you guess what happens when we do it?



Undoing zips (4%). When a zip gets stuck, and the whole force of my combined biceps, triceps and deltoids can't get the job done, surely the next best thing is the precious porcelain and irreplaceable enamel of my incisors. A new zip is only a couple of euros, and the Zipyard would do a stellar job for us if it was a special item of clothing, but I'm guessing we could save a few quid and just wrench it with our dentition.



Opening bottles (9%). Now this is the serious one. This is the one that inspired the (tongue-in-cheek) article. This is the one I saw yesterday. Opening a bottle at a party like he had done a hundred times before, his premolar has shattered and is now only fit for the bin. This is going to be an expensive repair, with it being near enough to the front to be a major cosmetic concern. Implant. €2500-3500. I know this is a regular party trick, because I see the tell-tale signs of major trauma to the two teeth either side, the opposing teeth at the top, and even one on the opposite side. There are three or four candidates here for crowns. Bottle openers are always lying around, they even attach them to can openers and pen-knives, you can do a cool trick with the edge of a table or use a knife. Buy cans, buy screw caps, don't drink at all. There are so many cheaper ways to have enjoyed this party than be the guy opening everyone's bottle.




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