Weakness Is Strength: The Amazing Secrets of Your Teeth’s Durability
Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee
Your teeth are truly remarkable structures. As of yet, we can’t make any restoration material or technique that can match them for durability. That’s why in restorative dentistry, as part of our commitment to biomimetic dentistry, we try to preserve as much of your natural tooth material as possible.
A Surface of Glass
Tooth enamel is the hardest and strongest substance in your body. That’s in part because it’s 96% mineral, which makes it very hard and strong. But strength comes with its own drawbacks: it’s not tough, which means that it’s susceptible to cracking. It’s actually very similar in properties to glass, but it is structurally very different. Your tooth enamel is made up of a number of rods of material that stand next to each other like blades of grass in the lawn.
When cracks occur, they emerge between the rods, and the structure causes them to sink downward into the deeper parts of the enamel, but the structure down deeper is different. The rods become intertwined and overlapped like the roots of grass. If you’ve ever tried to dig up the sod in your yard, you know how hard it can be to separate out those intertwining roots, and it’s in that rootlike structure that cracks in your enamel are stopped.
But if the entire tooth was enamel, the ability to propagate and stop cracks wouldn’t be enough. Instead, there’s an extra layer of toughness underneath, the dentin. Dentin is a lot less mineral than your enamel, about 70% mineral content. Most of the rest of the dentin is made of collagen fibers, the same tough material that makes up most of our gums and skin. These collagen fibers make an interconnected web structure, and embedded in these fibers are prestressed mineral nanoparticles.
Prestressing is an engineering technique that helps some materials better stand up to pressure, and in the case of dentin, these prestressed microparticles keep cracks from propagating through the tooth, while the fibers allow the material to flex.
Leave the Tooth Alone
Hopefully now you understand why we’re so reluctant to remove too much of your natural tooth material. We don’t currently have restorative materials that can replicate the behavior of enamel or dentin. So when we treat a cavity, we remove only the actual decayed area and place the smallest filling possible.
Dr. Kent E. White is an expert in biomimetic dentistry. He has developed restorative techniques and utilizes advanced materials that allow him to eliminate decay with a minimum of disturbance to your natural tooth structure. This can help maintain your naturally beautiful smile for a lifetime.
To learn more about the benefits of biomimetic dentistry in Nashville, please call (615) 383-6787 for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.