Have you ever wondered how creatures of the animal kingdom protect and care for their teeth? Do animals even suffer from tooth decay the way people do? There’s one animal in particular that should be the envy of anyone who has experienced a toothache, and that’s the beaver. These industrious rodents constantly use their teeth to chisel through tree trunks, tear through bark, and lug logs around to build impressive waterways without a second thought about brushing or flossing. A beaver’s incisors are powerful tools, so what makes them impervious to cavities?
In searching for the cure to mankind’s dental woes, researchers examined how beavers and similar rodents keep their teeth in working order throughout their lives. Using an atom probe tomography (APT), researchers analyzed the unique pigmented enamel of various types of rodents’ teeth and found that, unlike humans, the rodent tooth enamel is predominately reinforced with iron nanowires rather than magnesium.
When magnesium enamel is exposed to certain acids, it breaks down and weakens, resulting in caries and other painful dental conditions. However, when the iron-rich enamel found in a beaver’s tooth is exposed to the same acids, it does not dissolve. Only the trace amounts of magnesium in the sturdy beaver tooth are affected, which is not enough to cause serious damage.
A Blueprint for Stronger Teeth
The micro-analysis technique which the researchers used to examine the nanoscale composition of beaver teeth revealed brand new information about what it takes to strengthen teeth chemically and prevent against dissolution. Researchers can now explore ways to create iron-rich enamel in humans using the blueprint discovered in rodent teeth.
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It is also important to note that in addition to chemically strong teeth, beavers live on a strict diet of tree bark and aquatic plants and do not eat foods that contribute to tooth decay, such as sugary snacks and greasy foods. We can learn a thing or two about strengthening and protecting our teeth from the animal world!
It is still important to have annual dental checkups to ensure that your teeth are properly cleaned and that you don’t have any cavities. Preventative care will allow you to avoid extensive dental work in the future. Contact Dr. Broome at (704) 364-4711 today to schedule your consultation!
Next, read about how you can brighten your smile!