Improved mineralised material can restore tooth enamel

restoring tooth enamel
Photo: belchonock 123rf

Scientists from Russia have perfected hydroxyapatite, a material for mineralising bones and teeth. By adding a complex of amino acids to hydroxyapatite, they were able to form a dental coating that replicates the composition and microstructure of natural enamel. 

Improved composition of the material repeats the features of the surface of the tooth at the molecular and structural level, and in terms of strength surpasses the natural tissue. 

The new method of dental restoration can be used to reduce the sensitivity of teeth in case of abrasion of enamel or to restore it after erosion or improper diet. 

The study is published in Results in Engineering.

“Tooth enamel has a protective function, but unfortunately, its integrity can be destroyed by, for example, abrasion, erosion or microfractures,” said Dr Pavel Seredin at Voronezh State University.

“If the surface of the tissue is not repaired in time, the enamel lesion will affect the dentin and then the pulp of the tooth. Therefore, it is necessary to restore the enamel surface to a healthy level or build up additional layers on the surface if it has become very thin. 

“We have created a biomimetic (i.e. mimicking natural) mineralised layer whose nanocrystals replicate the ordering of apatite nanocrystals of tooth enamel. 

“We also found out that the designed layer of hydroxyapatite has increased nanohardness that exceeds that of native enamel.” 

Hydroxyapatite is a compound that is a major component of human bones and teeth. Scientists selected a complex of polyfunctional organic and polar amino acids, including, for example, lysine, arginine, and histidine, which are important for the formation and repair of bone and muscle structures. 

The chosen amino acids made it possible to obtain hydroxyapatite, which is morphologically completely similar to apatite (the main component of tissues) of dental enamel. The researchers also described the conditions of the environment in which the processes of binding of hydroxyapatite to the dental tissue should occur. Only if these conditions are met it is possible to fully reproduce the structure of natural enamel.

“Traditionally in dentistry, composite restorative materials are used in enamel restoration,” Dr Seredin said.

“To increase the bonding efficiency of enamel and composite, the restoration technique involves acid etching of the enamel beforehand. The etching products left behind may not always have a positive effect on the bonding of enamel and synthetic materials.

“To reproduce the enamel layers with biomimetic techniques, we neutralised the media and removed the etching products using calcium alkali. In this way we improved the binding of the new hydroxyapatite layers.”

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