Why don’t our teeth decay after we die?

03/08/2013

Funeral Boss, a show about the celebration of life, follows a family that finds themselves in a relatively unorthodox business.

Bill Harris owns his own funeral home and acts as the Funeral Director while his four children help him maintain the business.

The family shows great care and concern, bringing the Harris Family’s personal flare to the funeral procession of each individual that they help souls walk through their doorway and onto the afterlife. Among the various, unparalleled differences between a Harris Family Funeral include a personalized step team to walk the casket down the aisle, a loving family to help the deceased’s loved ones get through such a hard planning process, and a meticulous process of caring for the body post-mortem.

In the show Bill Harris talks in depth about the time and care and effort he puts into making these individuals look as life-like and attractive as they did when blood was still coursing through their veins. No task is left forgotten – from choosing the right colored clothing, to tediously applying the makeup, to assuring that the nails of the deceased look polished and neat in appearance.

Photo Credit: John Troha Photography/Kravitz DentistryBut we had a few questions when watching the show, such as: why don’t our teeth decay after death? We know that once our bodies go into the ground, our natural form decays and only our bones and teeth are left behind.

So what happens to the teeth that keep them around when the soul has left the building and the rest of the body slowly dissipates?

In natural body decomposition, bacteria breaks down the flesh in about seven days, but the teeth are left unaffected by decay. Why is this?

The short answer is that in order for teeth to decay, pH levels need to be below 5.5. When our bodies are in the ground, our teeth are actually safer from acidic tooth decay – what can be caused by foods like lemons, tomatoes and other highly acidic produce.

Therefore, since the teeth are not repeatedly soaked in acids, they are actually, ironically enough shielded from acidic decay, keeping them intact.

Have you ever wondered some strange stuff about what happens post-mortem? Ask us at Discovery Fit & Health!

Be sure to tune in to the premiere of Funeral Boss on Thursday 3/14 @ 10/9c!


Dr. Joe Kravitz is a dental expert who specializes in fixing people’s mouths with fillings, inlays, crowns, veneers, dentures and implants. He is on a quest to get people to think about oral health.

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