- A properly designed material which is made of calcium phosphate ion clusters can be used to create a precursor layer for inducing the epitaxial crystal growth of enamel apatite.
- This needed a new type of calcium phosphate ion clusters which had a diametrical measurement of 1.5 nanometres. They were stabilised in ethanol with the help of triethylamine
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our body. It is irreplaceable and many people all over the world suffer from tooth decay due to loss of enamel. However new studies offer hope to end this problem.
Researchers in China have come up with a liquid solution which can help in growing back the outer surface of the damaged tooth enamel with the help of a material which mimics the mineralisation process of the protective outer layer of our teeth. The work appears in Science Advances journal.
Tooth enamel is created in a biomineralisation process where cells known as ameloblasts generate proteins which harden to form the tough outer coating of our teeth. But ameloblasts are only present during the course of tooth development as a result of which the mature teeth cannot repair itself after its formation.
Researchers have tried several approaches to coax enamel remineralisation artificially but they have mostly failed since the crystalline structure of the enamel has not been properly replicated in the laboratory. Zhaoming Liu, biomimetics and materials researcher said that in this new technique they reveal that a properly designed material which is made of calcium phosphate ion clusters can be used to create a precursor layer for inducing the epitaxial crystal growth of enamel apatite. This mimics the biomineralisation crystalline-amorphous frontier for the development of hard tissue.
This needed a new type of calcium phosphate ion clusters which had a diametrical measurement of 1.5 nanometres. They were stabilised in ethanol with the help of triethylamine which avoided them being clumped together. They were then applied to the human teeth which were donated by the patients. The super-small clusters properly fused to form the fish scale-like structure of native enamel. This replicated the tooth coating with an equally hard layer which had a thickness of 2.8 micrometres in 48 hours.
That is very much thinner compared to the full layer of normal tooth enamel, however, researchers feel that repeated coatings of CPIC solution could increase the thickness along with further refinements. Liu said that that generated enamel has the similar structure and properties to that of native enamel. Researchers hope to generate tooth enamel without fillings that contain entirely different materials. They are expecting to begin trials within one to two years.
To meet the deadline, scientists have to prove that the material is safe as presently there are concerns regarding the toxicity of triethylamine, which is the stabilising compound. It evaporates during the process hence should not be of any risk. The substance is currently being tested in mice. It might take some time before it is adopted for daily use and till then the conventional advice on dental health has to be followed. Chen Haifeng, Peking University who was not part of the study thinks artificial replacement can never properly replicate the natural teeth.
Journal Reference: Science Advances journal