Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Researchers get their teeth into artificial dental enamel

Abstract:
A natural fix to avoid metal fillings

Researchers get their teeth into artificial dental enamel

Posted on August 01, 2006

An international team of researchers have finally got their teeth into making artificial dental enamel. Their work, published in the journal Advanced Materials, could lead to new tough coatings for engineering applications as well as the possibility of a natural fix for broken or rotten teeth that avoids heavy metal fillings.

Researchers have chewed over how to make novel materials that mimic some of the best physical and chemical properties of natural compounds for many years. Among such natural materials is dental enamel, which is not only smooth, but very hard, making it a potential coating for engineering components in which wear and tear are a normally serious problem.

Dental enamel is the outermost layer of the teeth and is the hardest mineralized tissue in the human body. It is composed mainly of millions of microscopic crystals of the mineral hydroxyapatite. These tiny hexagonal rods pack together to form a structure known as the enamel prism. The tight packing of these units makes all the difference between "al dente" and a slurp by protecting the living tooth within and making it hard enough to bite through most foods.

Cells, known as ameloblasts, build the dental enamel from mineral salts and enamel proteins. However, once the enamel layer is complete, the ameloblast cells die, leaving behind an essentially dead coating on each tooth. If you damage the enamel, there are no quick fix cells to carry out a repair and regenerate it.

Brian Clarkson of the University of Michigan and colleagues in Poland have now taken a bite out of nature's recipe book and used the so-called hydrothermal method to make artificial dental enamel. The hydrothermal approach has been used to make other materials before and is analogous to using a pressure cooker. The ingredients are crystallised from water under high pressure so that it is well above its boiling point. This is the first time hydrothermal chemistry has been used to create artificial dental enamel.

Under the microscope, Clarkson's synthetic dental enamel has a very similar crystal structure to natural enamel. The new synthetic material is also almost as tough as natural enamel and supports the growth of living cells. As such it might one day be used to grow artificial teeth, something that anyone who suffers daily ritual of dunking their false teeth in sterilizing solution at bed time might welcome.

"This work demonstrates the potential of applying nanotechnology to the direct creation of biomaterials with a specific biological architecture, in this case, human enamel," Clarkson says. "We are now working on producing thicker apatite films and blocks of this synthetic enamel to be used as veneer coverings for unsightly teeth and caps (crowns) for teeth which are heavily filled and/or broken down."

####


Brian H. Clarkson, University of Michigan (USA),www.dent.umich.edu/

Title: Acellular Synthesis of a Human Enamel-like Microstructure

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2006, 18, No. 14, 1846-1851, doi: 10.1002/adma.200502401

Contact:
Editorial office:
angewandte@wiley-vch.de

or David Greenberg (US)
dgreenbe@wiley.com

or Julia Lampam (UK)
jlampam@wiley.co.uk

Copyright Angewandte Chemie

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

International research team uses wavefunction matching to solve quantum many-body problems: New approach makes calculations with realistic interactions possible May 17th, 2024

Aston University researcher receives 1 million grant to revolutionize miniature optical devices May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Nanomedicine

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

New micromaterial releases nanoparticles that selectively destroy cancer cells April 5th, 2024

Materials/Metamaterials/Magnetoresistance

How surface roughness influences the adhesion of soft materials: Research team discovers universal mechanism that leads to adhesion hysteresis in soft materials March 8th, 2024

Nanoscale CL thermometry with lanthanide-doped heavy-metal oxide in TEM March 8th, 2024

Focused ion beam technology: A single tool for a wide range of applications January 12th, 2024

Catalytic combo converts CO2 to solid carbon nanofibers: Tandem electrocatalytic-thermocatalytic conversion could help offset emissions of potent greenhouse gas by locking carbon away in a useful material January 12th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project