Do Animals in the wild have tooth decay


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Do Animals in the wild have tooth decay

Another reason worthy of consideration is short lifespan and frequent replacements. Maybe, just maybe if animals in the wild lived long enough, they could have tooth decay. For most animals in the wild, their teeth tend to outlive them. Also, lots of species in the wild are known to shed their teeth quite frequently. A certain species of sharks named Carcharhiniforms shed approximately 35,000 teeth over the course of their entire lifespan. Also, oral hygiene is very common among animals in the wild. These animals depend on raw food for rich in fiber or bone, tree bark, etc., and they chew the food for a very long time so as to be able to digest it. In doing so, they indirectly clean their teeth.

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First, what is tooth decay? Tooth decay, also called dental caries, is damage done to the teeth by the production of acid by certain bacteria living in the mouth that break down certain foods that we eat. This acid wears away the enamel [image 1], forming a cavity [image 2]. The damage can progress till your teeth looks like image 4. Tooth decay is so common that there are an estimated 1 million cases per year in Nigeria. 

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There are hundreds of thousands of bacteria living on the insides of your mouth, majority of these microbes are harmless but a few species amongst them are harmful and are the leading instigators of tooth decay—Streptococcus mutans &Streptococcus sobrinus. Sugars are the leading causes of tooth decay in humans worldwide. However, sugars do not directly cause tooth decay. After you take in sugary substances—cakes and biscuits, soft drinks, fruits, chocolates, cereal bars, you name it—the S. mutans & S. sobrinus in your mouth break down these sugars, releasing acid and forming plague. Plague [image 3] is a sticky substance that forms on the surface of your teeth from the breakdown of sugars by the microbes. If you do not brush your teeth properly to remove the plague, the plague can harden forming calculus and also giving the harmful bacteria a safe zone. Usually, during an acid attack where the enamel is wearing down and losing minerals (demineralizing), our saliva combined with the fluoride from toothpaste or other sources such as public water supplies “remineralise” the teeth and bring it back to normal. But if frequent acid attacks continue and proper oral hygiene is not followed, the plague can harden forming a shield for the bacteria against saliva, toothpaste, and fluorinated water and allowing the bacteria to continue damage behind the scenes, sorry, plague. The acids keep wearing away your enamel till a cavity forms and it progresses to the next layer of your tooth—the dentin [image 1]. During the enamel-destruction stage, you wouldn’t feel any pain because there are no nerves in the enamel. The dentin is softer than the enamel, therefore easily destructible. You would start noticing little discomfort at this stage because it has tiny tubes that directly communicate with the nerves in the pulp. But when the damage progresses to the pulp [image 1] which contains blood vessels and nerves, the pain becomes almost unbearable. Your tooth is terribly decayed [image 4] and you might need a surgery. 

 

That being said, the question remains; do animals in the wild have tooth decay, considering that they are not practicing the same oral hygiene we do practice? . 

 

They don’t. You’d ask why. It’s very simple, here goes; It lies in their diet and the way you look at “oral hygiene”. Animals living in the wild don’t consume cooked food or the sugary substances that we, humans, eat every day. They only eat raw food and drink nothing other than water (Amoroso, did you see Mirinda and Pizza here? I think not) for sustenance. Because of this, their teeth do not run the risk of being eaten away by acid broken down from food that is rich in refined sugar or flavored drinks. 

 

This is precisely the reason why you might expect your pets, including cats, dogs etc., to have tooth decay, because the food they eat (like pet food and biscuits) consists of refined sugars, which is detrimental to their dental health. We should take a cue from the dietary habits of the wild animals, no? Just kidding. Ha-ha. 

 

Another reason worthy of consideration is short lifespan and frequent replacements. Maybe, just maybe if animals in the wild lived long enough, they could have tooth decay. For most animals in the wild, their teeth tend to outlive them. Also, lots of species in the wild are known to shed their teeth quite frequently. A certain species of sharks named Carcharhiniforms shed approximately 35,000 teeth over the course of their entire lifespan. Also, oral hygiene is very common among animals in the wild. These animals depend on raw food for rich in fiber or bone, tree bark, etc., and they chew the food for a very long time so as to be able to digest it. In doing so, they indirectly clean their teeth.

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