“Bendable teeth seen for the first time!” headlined the August 2012 issue of NewScientist. How could that fail to catch the interest of our dentist of Northern Virginia, when teeth are typically the hardest material in the human body! Under what circumstances would they bend, yet not break?
With tooth enamel ranking even stronger than bone, imagine the force required to chip or break them. Do you open bottle caps with your teeth instead of commercially produced openers? Don’t!
And what would you expect to have happen if you repeatedly bumped your teeth into stone? Even though human tooth enamel ranks stronger than bone, a visit to our dental office for cosmetic or restorative surgery would be a must. So who has these “bendable teeth” that have become so newsworthy?
Here first is an interesting fact: 96% percent of tooth enamel consists of mineral, with water and organic material composing the rest. Large amounts of mineral accounts for the strength but also for the brittleness of teeth–not flexibility. As it turns out…
Tom Geerinckx, a morphologist at Ghent University in Belgium, discovered teeth that bend are not human but belong to the suckermouth catfish. It’s the fascinating dental composition and microstructure (including collagen and areas of significantly less calcium, phosphate and magnesium) that allow these teeth to scrape food off rocks and other hard surfaces — without having them break.
Unless you’re a suckermouth catfish, take the advice of our dentist of Northern Virginia and don’t do this at home. If you do manage to chip or fracture your teeth, contact our team of dental experts immediately!