A modern, first-of-its-kind glance at the nanostructure of tooth enamel assists to explain why the hardest material in the human body is so extremely resilient.
Tooth enamel appears like bone, but it is not actually living tissue. This exterior layer of the tooth – which encases and conserves other tissue in the tooth – forms when we are new, and once teeth are formulated, it has no natural capacity to self-repair or regrows.
Luckily, the mineralization process which generates tooth enamel ascertains an incredibly tough material that is harder than steel, and modern research implies a never-before-seen tool that enables make its exceptional resilience reasonable.
Biophysicist Pupa Gilbert from the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that they applied huge tension on tooth enamel every time they chew, hundreds of times a day.
Tooth enamel is different in that it has to linger our entire lifetime. How does it stave off catastrophic failure?
The answer fabricates in what the experimenters call the “hidden structure” of tooth enamel: a small structural configuration of the nanocrystals that compose our outer layer of teeth.
These extremely small crystals are formed of a kind of calcium apatite named hydroxyapatite.
A similar mineral substance is discovered in the teeth of other beasts too, and the crystals actually are small, measuring less than one-thousandth the density of a human hair.
Before this study, we just did not have the methods to peek at the structure of enamel as said by Gilbert.
He also said that with a technique that he previously designed, named polarisation-dependent imaging contrast (PIC) mapping, one can gauge and visualize in color the direction of individual nanocrystals and discern many millions of them at once.
This electron microscopy method as said by Gilbert gives rise to the architecture of complex biominerals instantly visible to the naked eye and in accomplishing so, revealed something scientists had never discerned before.