Our teeth are composed of several layers, and each one performs a particular task. Although dental enamel gets all the glory because it’s ultra-hard and makes a beautiful outer coating for our teeth, it’s the tough but flexible dentin that really makes teeth durable. Dentin, which is not as cosmetic as enamel, allows our teeth to flex slightly which helps absorb bite forces and reduces the risk that teeth will crack.
Now researchers have gained a better understanding of how dentin accomplishes that task, and they hope to make restoration materials that can incorporate this property.
Prestressed Building Material
One trick engineers use for making building materials stronger is pre-stressing it. That is, they put it under some type of force so that it compresses the building material, making it denser and stronger. It turns out that this is part of the secret that makes dentin strong.
Dentin is made up of collagen fibers–the same tough proteins that make up most of our skin and gums–with mineral nanoparticles embedded in them.
In order to stop cracks from propagating through the dentin, these collagen fibers start out compressed. This makes them tougher so that they can resist damage.
Incorporating Dentin-Like Material in Restorations
These days, our dental restorations are designed using hard ceramic materials that are most like enamel, but we haven’t been able to incorporate a dentin-like “flex” in our restorations. In the future, though, we might be able to, now that we understand better how dentin accomplishes this. If we were able to do that, it might help restorations last longer, especially dental crowns on dental implants, which don’t have the benefit of any flexible cushioning to help absorb stresses.
Currently, CEREC crowns often incorporate the visual properties of dentin–they can be made with a slightly darker region inside so that it looks more like a natural tooth with translucent enamel over darker dentin. In the future, maybe they’ll also be made with versions that have dentin-like properties inside so they can function more like natural teeth.
If you are looking for advanced reconstructive dentistry in Columbus made using the latest materials and techniques, please call (614) 848-5001 for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at the Center for Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.