Biomimetic Advancements in Dentistry
Teeth are made up of durable and unique structures that are composed of different layers and numerous micro-platelets. A material that is similar to a tooth, is that of a seashell. Over the years, it has been a challenge for scientists to create a material that imitates the properties and structural complexity of a tooth or seashell.
Now, thanks to a team of researchers led by Andre Studart – Professor of Complex Materials – a new method used to mimic natural materials have been developed. The researchers were able to produce a multi-layered material based on the unique components of teeth or seashells. "The wonderful thing about our new procedure is that it builds on a 100-year-old technique and combines it with modern material research," says Tobias Niebel, Studart’s doctoral student.
For this procedure, researchers first create a plaster cast that serves as a mould. They then pour a magnetised ceramic platelet, such as aluminium oxide, into the mould which absorbs the liquid and causes the material to solidify and harden from the outside in. A magnetic field is applied to the mould and while the material is still in liquid form, the ceramic platelets align into the applied magnetic field, where its orientation will be changed at regular intervals, creating a layer-like structure. The end result of this procedure is the near perfect imitation of tooth enamel. The potential of the technique was demonstrated when the research group produced an artificial tooth, which had the same hard and structurally complex exterior as a real tooth, with the softer inner layer mimicking the dentine of the natural tooth.
This shows that in future, the naturally fine structures of a tooth can be produced in a laboratory. However, to prevent yourself from having to rely on biomimetic dentistry, your best option will always be to schedule regular dental appointments with your dentist. For biomimetic or any other dentistry, contact us for a dentist in Cape Town.
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