Scientists Can Produce Clusters of Enamel-Like Calcium Phosphate

Saturday, August 31, 2019 - 11:38

Scientists have discovered a method by which enamel's complex structure can be reproduced and the enamel essentially “grown” back.

According to an ISCA report, researchers succeeded in discovering a new method, using cheap materials that can be prepared on a large scale, by which enamel's complex structure can be reproduced.

“After intensive discussion with dentists, we believe that this new method can be widely used in future,” said Dr Zhaoming Liu, co-author of the research from Zhejiang University in China, The Guardian reports.

While scientists have been chipping away at the issue for years through a number of approaches, they have encountered problems – not least that it is difficult to reproduce the complex structure of natural tooth enamel.

The researchers behind the latest study, published in the journal Science Advances, say they got around this problem by developing a way to produce tiny clusters of calcium phosphate – the main component of enamel – with a diameter of just 1.5 nanometres – far smaller than those previously employed.

That was managed by preparing the clusters in the presence of a substance called triethylamine that prevented them from clumping. To test their clusters, the team used crystalline hydroxyapatite, which is similar to natural enamel. The results showed the clusters fused on to this material and formed a layer with a much tighter arrangement than previous, larger clusters.

The team says this is important because it means that as the new layer transforms and becomes crystalline over time, it extends the underlying structure in a continuous manner, rather than forming many crystalline regions. The team then applied their clusters to human teeth which had been exposed to acid.

They discovered that within 48 hours the clusters had given rise to a crystalline layer, about 2.7 micrometres thick, with the complex, fish-scales-like structure of the underlying natural enamel. The repaired enamel had a similar strength and wear-resistance to natural, undamaged enamel.


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