Hydroxylapatite “Nanowire” Layers Are Responsible for Beaver’s Teeth Super Strength, Study

Researchers have found a novel way of studying tooth decay and how prevent it. What better way to do it than studying the dentals of the animal considered the strongest there is: Beaver’s teeth?

They don’t brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, however, they have much more that we humans don’t have, this is according to scientists at Northwestern University. Beavers have certain chemical structures in their teeth, its iron they say, that makes the teeth super strong and super resistant from tooth abscess.

The rusty looking pigmented teeth of beavers are more resistant to bacteria which feeds on the acid left behind by food particles after we eat. Enamel coated human teeth treated with fluoride doesn’t compare to beaver’s teeth when it comes to fighting tooth decay.

“We have made a really big step forward in understanding the composition and structure of enamel — the tooth’s protective outer layer — at the smallest length scales,” says study leader Derk Joester, a professor of materials science and engineering.

“Enamel is a very complex structure, making study of it challenging,” the researchers note.

Hydroxylapatite materials act as “nanowire” layers that form the core structure of enamel of beaver’s teeth. It’s acid resistant. Acids are by products of bacteria after they eat the food particles left behind the teeth.

These nanowire structures also contribute to the mechanical strength of the teeth.

This Northwestern research is the pioneering study on the exact construction and configuration of this “amorphous” material.

“The unstructured material, which makes up only a small fraction of enamel, likely plays a role in tooth decay,” Joester said. “We found it is the minority ions — the ones that provide diversity — that really make the difference in protection. In regular enamel, it’s magnesium, and in the pigmented enamel of beaver and other rodents, it’s iron.”

In successive of experiments involving rabbit, mouse and beaver enamel, Jobster and his team managed to see for the first time their amorphous structure atom by atom.

“A beaver’s teeth are chemically different from our teeth, not structurally different,” Joester says. “Biology has shown us a way to improve on our enamel.”

One of the most common tooth diseases is tooth decay. Americans spend 11 billion every year on dental care and services in order to keep their teeth healthy. This is according to American Dental Association.

 

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