Artificial Enamel has been successfully created by researchers in their laboratory. While it is not intended to replace natural Enamel or repair damaged Enamel, it can still be used in many other areas. Artificial Enamel is used to create Body armor, strong vehicles, harden surfaces of many appliances, and building materials that can protect against earthquakes.
In six areas, the artificial enamel or lab grown enamel has outperformed the natural enamel, including elasticity, absorbing vibrations and strength.
Enamel is a complex structure. To replicate it and copy all its properties would be a huge step in the right direction. Natural Enamel, the strongest tissue in the body, is strong enough not to crack under the pressure of hard forces for a lifetime and elastic enough to withstand all kinds of forces. Natural Enamel can be organized in many ways, such as wool fibers being spun into yarn, then knitted into a cable knit sweater. Calcium, phosphorus, and oxygen atoms must combine in a repeating pattern to create crystalline wires.
Researchers used extreme heat to arrange the wires in an organized formation in order to create artificial enamel. Earlier scientists unsuccessfully used peptides – short chains of amino acids which help in building proteins to mimic enamel. Researchers made a new attempt to protect the wires with a coating of malleable metal. This gave them extra strength.
According to Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said – What makes the artificial Enamel more like Natural Enamel is the coating on the crystalline wires which makes the Artificial Enamel more resilient and less likely to break, the soft material covering the wires can absorb high amount of pressures and shock.
Natural Enamel’s magnesium-rich coating has been replaced by Zirconium Oxide, which gives it greater strength and is non-toxic. These materials were used to create a material that was hard and can be cut with a diamond-based saw.
Researchers created a small notch in the surface to test the hardness of the Artificial Enamel material. Then they applied pressure to it until it gave up and formed a crack. It was also possible to determine the strength of the enamel by measuring the pressure and length of cracks. Researchers even tested Artificial Enamel against Natural Enamel. The results were in favor of lab-grown enamel, which outperformed the Natural one.
The cells (AmeloblastsEnamel is not able to repair itself. Caries in Enamel is the most common reason for dental visits. Neglecting to treat it can lead to tooth death. Dental Amalgam and Composite are used to replace the Enamel that has been damaged. These materials have different properties than Natural Enamel so they can withstand the oral forces for many decades.
It might take some time to use this Artificial Enamel for the repair of natural Enamel. First, heat it to 300 degrees Celsius. Next, freeze it. Finally, cut into the desired shape. This is very difficult in a Clinical Practice.
Article by Varun Pandula
Varun is a dentist from Hyderabad, India. I try my best to make Dental Education easier for students and the Dental fraternity.
For any queries, please contact me.