Human enamel mimic restores tooth whiteness

27-Jun-2013 - China

Research describes a new method for non-abrasive teeth whitening that uses a naturally-occurring mineral contained in a polymer film.

Current methods for maintaining a gleaming white smile include replacing the crowns of discoloured teeth or using chemical abrasives such as hydrogen peroxide to etch off stained enamel – methods that can lead to sensitized teeth and irritated gums.

Scientists in China have developed a new whitening material using a combination of fluorapatite in polyethyleneoxide solution. Fluorapatite is a naturally-occurring mineral containing calcium, phosphorous and fluorine. They exposed non-carious teeth that had been polished and deliberately damaged with phosphoric acid to this whitening solution, adding non-toxic polyacrylamide to solidify a layer of the fluorapatite film on to the natural enamel surfaces.

When compared with the colour of teeth treated with the traditional peroxide-based methods, the fluorapatite coated teeth showed improve whiteness by clinical dentistry standards. Using a series of imaging techniques the scientists showed that the reconstructed layer has chemical, structural and mechanical properties comparable to those of natural tooth enamel.

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