“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
You may have heard this saying before; it has been around for quite some time. But many people don’t actually remember where this oft-quoted dental saying came from. In fact, recently, we’ve been asked the following questions:
- Where does the old saying, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ come from?
- Is it true that this saying comes from the Grecian Trojan Horse myth?
Today, let’s dive into the history of this idiom, including the real tooth truth behind it!
Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth Origin
First off, it’s a misconception that this old saying has anything to do with the Trojan Horse. This old saying has been traced back to the writings of St. Jerome, one of the Latin Fathers of the fourth century, who labeled it a common proverb. Then, many experts believe that in 1546, John Heywood wrote the phrase in Middle English in his publication: A Dialogue Conteinyng The Nomber In Effect Of All The Prouerbes In The Englishe Tongue. Because it was written in Middle English, it looked like this: “No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth.”
Since then, this expression “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” has been found in French, Italian, Spanish, and other European languages. It references the poor manners displayed by someone who receives a gift and then examines it for flaws. Simply put, when you get a gift, be grateful for it!
But what do horses have to do with being grateful for a present?
Well, believe it or not, way back when this phrase originated, it was not uncommon to receive a horse as a gift. And you can determine a horse’s age and health by simply looking at its teeth. The horse might look young at first glance, but the number or condition of its teeth could indicate something else going on.
How Do Horse’s Teeth Indicate Age?
Once fully developed, a horse’s teeth, including their incisors, premolars, and molars continue to erupt as the grinding surface is worn down by chewing. A young adult horse will have teeth about 4.5-5 inches long. But most of the tooth remains below the gum line in the dental socket. As the horse ages, the rest of the tooth will slowly emerge from the jaw, erupting about 1/8″ each year. When the animal reaches old age, the crowns of the teeth are very short, and sometimes, the teeth are often lost altogether.
A Human and Horse Connection
You may be surprised to find out that human teeth shorten with age as well! As our teeth chew, clench, grind, and even speak, we wear down the biting edges. Older folks tend to have flat, short front teeth, while kids have long “scalloped” edges on their front teeth.
However, with the help of a professional dentist, you can alter the appearance of your teeth! When our Dakota Dental dentists place crowns, they can change a person’s apparent age by making the anterior crowns slightly longer. It’s a subtle change that can make a big difference to your self-confidence.
Take Care of Your Teeth With Dakota Dental
Just like horses, our smile’s condition and coloring can significantly age our appearance. Flossing regularly and visiting Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dental Clinic for general dental services, professional teeth whitening, and cosmetic dentistry procedures will conceal any clues about your age. Now, that is truly a “gift” worth considering!