Why is it we can tap something on our teeth to verify what it’s made of?


Idk how common it is, yet I grew up where I was taught to know which material something is (if I couldn’t tell visually or physically) by tapping it on my teeth from wood, metal, glass, stone, bone, etc. I’m not always right yet for example if I’m holding something that is light and painted, I can tap it on my teeth and tell if it’s wood or plastic. If it’s a faux material I can usually tell by teeth tapping.

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2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

Different materials have different properties – a rubber is squishy and absorbs sound, while a metal will be very hard and ring out when struck, a wood somewhere in the middle and so on.

By tapping it on you teeth, you are tapping it against one of the most accessible hard parts of your body. By tapping it against a hard point, and especially one so choose to your ears, you are able to listen and feel to the way it rings out and sounds, and coupled with all of the other details you will also have noted elsewhere like the softness, look and weight, this will help you distinguish different materials more reliable with an additional point of reference.

Another related part of this that you may often see is people biting things like old coins – while nowhere near the levels of other predators like a dog or bear, the human jaw can still exert a huge amount of force. People biting things (and especially coins) was a way to determine how soft the material was by how easily it deformed when bitten – particularly noting that gold is a fairly soft metal and will deform easily, while less or alloys and other metals would typically be harder.