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The Super Tooth

Researchers at the Tel Aviv University School of Mechanical Engineering, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and George Washington University have been studying what makes the human tooth so resilient. The researchers discovered that tooth enamel owes its strength to a network of micro-cracks that diffuse pressure and stress. The structural make-up of the enamel is wavy and arranged in several layers. This structure makes is strong because it does not allow a clear pathway for pressure to break down the tooth. The pressure instead is spread out over the entire tooth due to the network of layers and wavy patterns. The research was originally planned to be used in composing a newer generation of stronger and lighter aircraft. The researchers are trying to develop a new aircraft composite material to replicate the tooth structure. Currently, aircraft uses composite materials made from layers of glass or carbon fibers held together in a single layer grid matrix. The researchers are also now studying ways to replicate this matrix for the use in dentistry to create stronger crowns and dental materials.