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Dinosaurs and Extra Teeth

Visits from the tooth fairy are a staple of childhood. As we lose our primary teeth, those “baby teeth” that are collected by the tooth fairy are replaced by a set of permanent teeth, which then travel with us throughout adulthood. But imagine receiving visits from the tooth fairy for the rest of your life. Unlike humans, who receive a mere two sets of teeth to get through an entire lifetime, some species of dinosaurs actually grew a completely new set of teeth in a matter of weeks.

Paleontologists have recently discovered that sauropods, a plant-eating species of dinosaur, produced a new set of teeth in as little as two weeks. What’s more, for each exposed tooth, these dinosaurs had as many as nine backups ready and waiting.

Sauropods, which included the brontosaurus among its ranks, are the largest animals that have ever lived on land, so, needless to say, they had very large appetites and had to eat gigantic amounts of food. For this reason, scientists now theorize that the tough plant-material that made up the entirety of their diet, over time, wore down their teeth. The excess teeth were likely needed, then, to keep up with their demanding diets.

Unlike sauropods, we humans do not have the luxury of having numerous sets of backup teeth waiting in the wings. By early adulthood, we already have all the teeth we will ever have. Therefore, it is vital that we do whatever we can to protect our teeth. To that end, here are a few things you can do to help ensure your teeth last a lifetime.

• Brush your teeth twice a day.
• Floss every day
• Rinse with a fluoride-containing mouthwash daily
• Visit your dentist regularly for professional dental cleanings and check-ups.

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