From: Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Published July 26, 2012 08:29 AM

Shark Teeth Have Built-In Toothpaste

An in-depth look at shark teeth has found that they contain fluoride, the active ingredient of most toothpaste and dental care mouthwashes.

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It helps to explain why sharks are so effective at either tearing or cutting prey. Their teeth are perfectly designed for such tasks, never suffering from cavities, according to the study, recently published in the Journal of Structural Biology.

While shark teeth contain the mineral fluoroapatite (fluorinated calcium phosphate), the teeth of humans and other mammals contain hydroxyapatite, which is an inorganic constituent also found in bone, explained co-author Matthias Epple.

"In order to make teeth more acid resistant, toothpaste often contains fluoride," Epple, a professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told Discovery News. "In the surface of human teeth after brushing, a small amount -- much less than 1 percent -- of hydroxide is exchanged by fluoride."

"In contrast," he added, "(the surface of) shark teeth contains 100 percent fluoride. In principle, sharks should not suffer from caries. As they live in water and as they change their teeth regularly, dental protection should not be a problem for sharks."

Article continues at Discovery News

Shark Teeth image via Shutterstock

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