Ask a Dentist

June 19, 2020

Q: How strong is my bite?

Profile of a human skeleton neck and head.

Have you bitten your cheek? If you have, you know it hurts a lot. It might make you wonder how much force is actually being extended when you bite down on something? 

We have amazingly efficient jaws with a bite that’s one of the strongest in the primate family (if we scale the skulls to the same size). Our back molars have a bite force of approximately 1,100 Newtons (or 247 pounds per square inch). 

Humans also evolved to have very thick tooth enamel and large tooth roots - these features are typically found in species with very strong jaw muscles and high bite forces, like a hippopotamus (that has a bite force of 1,825 Newtons).  The thick enamel on our teeth helps protect our teeth from cracking under the pressure of our bite.

The bite force that we have coupled with the efficiency of our jaw muscles, the roots of our teeth and the hardness of our enamel makes it very easy for us to bite through harder objects, like raw carrots.

When your tooth enamel wears down it’s easier to crack or break your teeth because of the force we exert on them when we eat or grind our teeth. Grinding your teeth at night is a quick way to wear away at your tooth enamel. Teeth grinding, called bruxism, is a common problem that’s easily fixed with a nightguard, especially if caught early. Do you find yourself grinding away your teeth at night? Make an appointment at either of our Winnipeg dental clinics to get fitted for your nightguard today.

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