Are teeth the new fingerprints?

Your mouth can speak volumes, whether you want it to or not!

We’re not talking about vocalization, either. When it comes to unique identifiers, your mouth is equal to your fingerprints in singling you out.

Your mouth can be as good as a fingerprint when it comes to identifying you

teeth photo
Photo by ohsarahrose

Sound like a bunch of hooey? Not according to forensic science! Beyond fingerprints, one of the number-one identifiers used by legal professionals are dental records. If there are issues identifying someone based on any other factors, the most reliable method is looking at your teeth. In fact, since tooth enamel is one of the hardest biological materials in the human body, teeth are often the only part of the human form that remain after all of the other parts are gone. If there’s nothing else, you can always check the teeth!

But that’s not all your mouth can say. Did you know, for instance, that someone’s tongue is just as good for giving away their identity? Both the shape of your tongue–its specific geometry and size–and the surface texture of your taste-buds are unique to you and you alone. Currently, there are different forms of 3D-imaging being researched in order to catalogue and utilize this information, but those technologies are pretty far off. Luckily, lock-screens on our phones don’t have lick-access capabilities yet.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that your mouth was unique,

then take a look at this: the specific bacteria that live in your mouth can indicate which population group you’re a member of! Depending on location, diet, ethnicity, and family history, your mouth has developed a specific set of bacteria that nobody else has. Specific clustering of microbial communities can help say where you’re from! Interestingly, only 2% of the bacteria present in mouths is shared across all individuals, according to studies. Another 8% was present in 90% of individuals, leaving the last 90% of dental bacteria basically unique to population groups!

Not only that, but did you know that scientists have been using the chemical makeup of teeth to figure out who a person was, centuries after their death? Dental archaeology (or even paleo-dentistry, if the bones are really old) is an important part of the field, telling archaeologists how old someone was when they died, what their diet was, analyze overall health, and even give a good idea of where and how they lived!

Mouths, when you think about it, are really amazing. That such a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives can teach us so much about ourselves and each-other is incredible! The team here at Dr. Matthew’s dentist office believes that, since all of our mouths are our own, it’s important to look after them, and make them look their best. If you have any questions about keeping your mouth looking fantastic, contact our office— Dr. Matthews knows mouths!

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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