Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cracking The Root Of Tooth Strength

Date:
April 20, 2009
Source:
George Washington University
Summary:
After years of biting and chewing, how are human teeth able to remain intact and functional? Scientists have discovered several features in enamel --- the outermost tooth tissue --- that contribute to the resiliency of human teeth.

A human molar compared to a sea otter molar.
Credit: The George Washington University

After years of biting and chewing, how are human teeth able to remain intact and functional? A team of researchers from The George Washington University and other international scholars have discovered several features in enamel—the outermost tooth tissue—that contribute to the resiliency of human teeth.

Related Articles


Human enamel is brittle. Like glass, it cracks easily; but unlike glass, enamel is able to contain cracks and remain intact for most individuals’ lifetimes. The research team discovered that the major reason why teeth do not break apart is due to the presence of tufts—small, crack-like defects found deep in the enamel. Tufts arise during tooth development, and all human teeth contain multiple tufts before the tooth has even erupted into the mouth.

Many cracks in teeth do not start at the outer surface of the tooth, as has always been assumed. Instead cracks arise from tufts located deep inside the enamel. From here, cracks can grow towards the outer tooth surface. Once reaching the surface, these cracks can potentially act as sites for dental decay. Acting together like a forest of small flaws, tufts suppress the growth of these cracks by distributing the stress amongst themselves.

“This is the first time that enigmatic developmental features, such as enamel tufts, have been shown to have any significance in tooth function” said GW researcher Paul Constantino. “Crack growth is also hampered by the “basket weave” microstructure of enamel, and by a ‘self-healing’ process whereby organic material fills cracks extended from the tufts, which themselves also become closed by organic matter. This type of infilling bonds the opposing crack walls, which increases the amount of force required to extend the crack later on.”

This research evolved as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists from The George Washington University and physical scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. The team studied tooth enamel in humans and also sea otters, mammals with teeth showing remarkable resemblances to those of humans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Herzl Chai, James J.-W. Lee, Paul J. Constantino, Peter W. Lucas, and Brian R. Lawn. Remarkable resilience of teeth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0902466106

Cite This Page:

George Washington University. "Cracking The Root Of Tooth Strength." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090418080952.htm>.
George Washington University. (2009, April 20). Cracking The Root Of Tooth Strength. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090418080952.htm
George Washington University. "Cracking The Root Of Tooth Strength." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090418080952.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins