Scientists have often wondered why beaver teeth are so strong. On the surface they appear to be no different than the teeth of any other mammal other than maybe that theirs are a bit more shinier. At the same time, it's obvious that human teeth wouldn't hold up very long if one attempted to chew on wood all day. Recently, scientists took a closer look at beaver teeth in hopes of discovering what made them "beaver teeth tough". The researchers found something surprising inside the beaver's teeth. It turns out that beavers make heavy use of iron to keep their teeth strong and healthy.
To understand how iron is incorporated into the beaver's teeth, one must first understand how tooth enamel is constructed. Tooth enamel looks like a solid structure. However, in reality it consists of very small weaves. Tooth enamel is very similar to a hand weaved basket. The basic structure is created by resting threads against each other. The big difference is that tooth enamel also makes use of a filling agent which acts like a glue. This increases the strength of one's teeth, and gives them a fully solid appearance. This is also why fluoride helps maintain the health of one's teeth. The fluoride buffers and strengthens the binding agents within teeth.
The researchers discovered that beaver teeth receive something similar to our fluoride treatments. Iron within the beaver's diet is transported to their enamel. The dietary iron essentially creates a microscopic metal plating to protect their teeth from wear and tear. It also serves as a great way of preventing cavities. One then begins to wonder, is this compatible in a way that could turn out to be useful for humans?
Now then, other than suggesting gene therapy to give us beaver teeth. There is a number of possible ways in which a person could introduce iron into one's teeth. The biggest issue at the moment comes from the color. Even small amounts of iron will change the color of one's teeth. Most people would prefer taking their chances with cavities if the alternative was reddish brown teeth like the beavers.
The scientists in the source stressed that the color is really only a small issue. At the moment iron treatment will always come with discoloration. But the same technique should work with any metal. It's just a matter of time until people can find the best combination of aesthetics and strength for a type of metal treatment. Perhaps in the future, it is very possible that humans will have teeth that are stronger than any beaver out there.