When you think of the paradigm of good oral health, you may not think immediately of beavers. However, it’s true—these constructive little critters have good oral health, despite the fact that you don’t see beavers brushing and flossing!
So what keeps their teeth in such good condition? They’ve got help right from the get-go with the way their teeth are formed. Whereas human tooth enamel is contains magnesium, beaver tooth enamel contains iron, which helps to strengthen it. Unlike our enamel, beaver enamel is pigmented and its structure makes it acid-resistant in ways that even fluoride treated human enamel isn’t.
This is where scientists have become intrigued: Could we learn from the beavers and fix our own enamel issues? At Northwestern University, researchers have shown that it is the material that surrounds the main components of enamel that contribute to acid resistance. The study, published in the prestigious Science journal, used atom-probe techniques to map out the enamel of beavers, mice, rabbits, and rats. They tested the enamel in acid to see how biominerals in each unique enamel structure impacted enamel resistance. What makes beaver enamel so important to us is that while it differs chemically, it is structurally similar to our own enamel.
As research progresses, we may discover more ways to protect our teeth from cavities by taking a leaf out of a beaver’s book!