Beavers: Aiding Oral Health In Greensboro

A beaverDental implants Greensboro, NC dentist Dr. Hatcher is thrilled to present some fascinating new news which has made its way into the world of dentistry thanks to the world of biology. Thanks to an unlikely candidate, new and improved methods of tooth decay prevention may be on the rise.

Here at Triad Dentistry our dental implant patients are always thrilled with the results of their new smiles thanks to dental implants. This is a wonderful thing to be able to boast as a dental practice, as out main goal is to ensure everything in our power is done to help you and the rest of our patients smile.

However, that being said, Triad Dentistry is a dental practice first and foremost, which means our staff are dental professionals first and foremost. That means our other main goal is to ensure the happiness and continued health of our patients. That being said, if there existed a way to better help prevent our patients from ever needing dental implants due to decay in the first place, we would, of course, jump at it. Those of our patients who are having to finance their own dental implants would most likely jump at an opportunity like this as well.

Well, according to a report submitted by a group of researchers at a Northwestern University, a method like the one described above may not be out of reach. And it’s all thanks to beavers.

Yes, that’s correct. Beavers. Those furry little rodents with buck teeth and impressive dam building skills.

Now before you start to roll your eyes at just how ridiculous all of this sounds (because trust us, we almost did the same thing when we stumbled across the report) hear us out. We have a point, we swear.

Take a step back and think about something with us for a moment. What is it that beavers do all day exactly? Well, they swim in creeks, rivers and streams. They build dams. Anything else you can think of?

Where do you suppose they get the wood from to build those dams? They chew through tree trunks. For almost its entire life, a beaver will spent a large amount of time gnawing through incredibly hard substances like wood. On top of this, a beaver will never brush its teeth a single time and will never undergo any fluoride treatments aimed at strengthening the state of its enamel. Even so, a beaver will die with a strong set of teeth still firmly rooted in its mouth, all of which relatively unaffected by decay or enamel erosion.

So what exactly is going on here? Why don’t a beaver’s teeth decay and erode the same way a human’s would if they spent even a few days trying to chomp through wood? How and why did beavers win biology’s enamel lottery, and how can we cash in on some of those winnings for ourselves?

It appears that team of researchers from the previously mentioned Northwestern University felt just as cheated in biology’s teeth games as the staff here does at Triad Dentistry. So they went in search of answers, and boy did they find some. You could almost say they struck gold, only what they actually struck was iron. Iron and a little bit of magnesium to be exact. According to their report, these are the substances that are making beavers teeth so incredibly strong.



A beaver’s teeth are structured in layers of  hydroxylapatite “nanowires.” However, that’s not the special part (we have nanowires in the structure of our teeth as well). The special part is in the material surrounding those nanowires where trace of amorphous minerals rich in iron and magnesium can be found.

“A beaver’s teeth are chemically different from ours, not structurally different,” Derk Joester, the team’s leading researcher, explains. “Biology has shown us a way to improve our enamel. The strategy of what we call ‘grain boundary engineering’ — focusing on the area surrounding the nanowires — lights the way in which we could improve our current treatment with fluoride.”

well, would you look at that. It appears with a little more research and the help of science, humans may not be so far behind in the enamel strength Olympics. Of course, we wouldn’t hold our breath for the hope that humans will ever be able to chew through wood with the fury and skill of a beaver. But, we can definitely hold out hope that our teeth might be able to withstand decay a little more than they already do with current fluoride treatments.

Here’s to hoping.

Until next time guys, keep smiling.