Something you Wouldn’t Expect May be the Answer to Cavities

Animals do not brush, floss or see their dentist regularly, but a new study conducted by Northwestern University indicates that beavers have a natural defense against tooth decay that is built right into the structure of the teeth and it’s called, iron.

Researchers discovered that the enamel in beavers is actually pigmented and contains iron that is more resistant and harder. Iron actually resists acid more so than human enamel and even fluoride.

The discovery just may help scientists learn how to improve current fluoride treatments while developing a better understanding of tooth decay. Thanks to beavers, researchers may also learn more about early tooth decay detection.

The core structure of the nanowires in human teeth is very well ordered, but what the team of researchers found was that beavers have an additional layer of protection around the nanowires, or the complex layers of enamel. Small amounts of magnesium and iron are in the additional layer of enamel that controls acid resistance along with mechanical properties. 

The unstructured layer of enamel that was found in beavers teeth could play a significant role when it comes to tooth decay. In human enamel, the magnesium is responsible for protection while the pigmented enamel found in a beaver gets its protection from iron.

Known as dental carries, tooth decay is caused by bacteria, which breaks down the teeth. Dental caries, caries being Latin for rottenness, is one of the most chronic and common problems on the planet despite fluoride and other modern day dental treatments.

The American Dental Association explains that more than $111 billion is spent each year in the dental chair, and that is just in the United States with the most of that money being spent on tooth decay. The World Health Organization explains that up to ninety percent of children and nearly 100 percent of adults around the world have, or will have cavities.

During the experiments, the researchers examined mouse, rat, and rabbit enamel and discovered that the amorphous structure surrounding the nanowires was quite similar to human enamel, while the beaver enamel was able to withstand acid exposure. While the nanowires disappeared, the iron and magnesium materials were able to handle the acid in a beavers tooth. 

Structurally beavers teeth are the same as a humans, however biology indicates that the enamel is quite different, which could lead the way when it comes to improving today’s fluoride treatment.

For more information regarding your own dental health, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.