My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Tooth enamel restoration inspired by mother of pearl

17-Apr-2013

Researchers in China have shown that the organic component of mother of pearl can help repair damaged teeth, by acting as a template for the mineralisation of tooth enamel.

Tooth enamel is made up of rod-like crystals of hydroxyapatite, a calcium phosphate mineral. It is the hardest tissue in the body, but is susceptible to erosion by food and bacterial acids. Methods of artificially rebuilding enamel often involve extreme temperature, pressure or pH conditions that make them impractical for clinical use.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fujian Medical University, both in Fuzhou, are working towards a more feasible solution using the natural composite, nacre (mother of pearl), from the inside of mollusc shells.

Nacre is composed of layers of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate, separated by an organic matrix of proteins and biopolymers called the Water Soluble Matrix (WSM). The WSM acts as a template for aragonite crystal growth during nacre formation, so the researchers thought it might also be able to influence the structure of hydroxyapatite crystals in enamel. They tested this using extracted human molars that had been deliberately damaged with a strong acid.

The teeth were immersed in a solution containing the isolated nacre WSM from mussel shells, along with calcium and phosphate ions, for three days. Scanning electron microscope images revealed that hydroxyapatite crystals with the correct shape and orientation formed on the surface of the tooth. The new ‘enamel’ was also similar to the real thing in terms of smoothness and hardness. Without the WSM, the crystals that formed were randomly orientated.

 

Original publication:

X Li et al, CrystEngComm, 2013

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Royal Society of Chemistry
  • News

    New coating is self-defence for seeds

    Scientists in Switzerland have developed a protective coating for seeds that poisons pests with cyanide when they bite into it. The coating is a system of two layers and only becomes toxic when the layers are mixed, eliminating the problem of environmental contamination that is associated w ... more

    Using bacteria to make electrodes

    Scientists in France have produced hematite using a bacterial pathway for use as an electrode material in Li-ion technologies. Currently, most commercial electrode materials for Li-ion technologies are prepared using the ceramic method, which requires long heating periods at high temperatur ... more

    Marine plant replacement for platinum in solar cells

    An international research team has shown that that the power conversion efficiency of sea tangle extract is comparable to platinum in solar cell electrodes. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are quickly becoming a widespread and affordable alternative to photovoltaic solar cells. The electr ... more

  • Videos

    Royal Society of Chemistry – About us

    With more than 51,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing our members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world. more

    A career in toxicology

    Hear from RSC member Vicki Stone talk about her role as a Nanotoxicologist. more

    When Food met Pharma: Delivery Strategies for Nutraceuticals

    With growing prevalence of lifestyle-associated diseases, including obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is an urgent need and demand to try to prevent the onset of these diseases within our growing population. Nutraceuticals, along with appropriate diet and exercise, ... more

  • Companies

    Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

    The RSC is a leading international publisher of highly regarded journals and books in the chemical sciences. The RSC is also the professional body for chemists with a global membership of over 46,000. more

More about CAS
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE