Beihang University, Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology and Michigan Institute of Translational Nanotechnology scientists have developed a synthetic enamel with properties similar to natural tooth enamel. The study has been published in the journal Science. Scientists described their enamel and how well it compared to natural enamel when tested.
Humans have been trying to prevent tooth decay for thousands of years. Much progress has been made. But one main area of advance has lagged. That is a means for replacing enamel when it is damaged. In the new study, researchers created an enamel analog. They suggested someday these will be used to replenish the enamel on human teeth.
Previous research has shown that the reason that human enamel is so strong slightly elastic is because it consists of tiny rods made of calcium. These are packed tightly together like pencils in a box. In the new study, researchers attempted to mimic tooth enamel as closely as possible. They produced a material using AIP-coated hydroxyapatite nanowires. It was aligned in parallel using a freezing technique. This also involved applying polyvinyl alcohol.
Scientists applied the enamel to a variety of shapes. This includes human teeth. They then tested how well it performed. They found it had a high degree of stiffness. It was strong and was also slightly elastic. They found that on most of their tests, the synthetic enamel outperformed natural enamel. Scientists planned to keep testing their material. They will make sure it will hold up under harsh environments that are found in the human mouth.
They will also have to show that it is safe for use in humans. They also have to show it can be mass produced. Scientists noted that their enamel passes all such tests. It could be used in more than just dentistry. Scientists suggested it could be used to coat pacemakers. It can also be used to shore up bones that have been damaged.