Teeth are an integral part of our lives. We need them to chew our food, are important for both verbal and nonverbal communication, they both keep our gums in place and retain the jawbone. Despite the undeniable importance that teeth hold, decayed teethand wisdom teeth are extracted every year without too much thought. Yet for some, the importance of teeth goes far beyond those previously mentioned reasons, and discarded teeth serve as a memento or a link to an important person who has passed on. One example of this is the Elvis superfan who is selling his old dental crown online. Recently, I heard about a large Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka that is believed to house one of the Buddha’s teeth.
The Relic Sri Dalada Maligawa
The temple’s official name is Sri Dalada Maligawa and it is actually Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine. The Buddha’s tooth was extracted from his remains after he was cremated in India and then smuggled into Sri Lanka. The tooth itself resides inside of six interfitting caskets, similar to a Russian nesting doll, and is never taken out of the casket, even for ceremonial cleanings. In the past, the tooth (still in the casket) would leave the temple during Esala Perahera, a festival held in honor of the sacred relic, but a replica casket has been in used since at least 1990 due to conflicts with Tamil Tigers in the region.
It is important to note that unlike many western religious temples that are popular with tourists, Sri Dalada Maligawa is still very much an active site of worship in the Buddhist faith so there are some customs that you should abide by if you plan to visit. Before you enter the temple, you must remove your shoes and place them in the shoeroom (think coat check but for shoes). Men and women must also make sure to wear clothing that covers their legs, shoulders, and chest out of a sign of respect. Also, you should try to avoid black or overly dark clothing.
How Should You Treat Your Teeth?
While no one may ever dedicate a shrine to your teeth, you should still maintain and clean them as if they were a relic of utmost importance! This means brushing your teeth twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and flossing at least once per day. You should also make regularly visiting a dentist a key part of your routine. If you live in the Austin area and are looking for a dentist you can trust, pay a visit to Dr. Matthews at Dan Matthews, DDS. Our team can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean. Please give us a call at (512) 520-0606 to schedule an appointment today.