Researchers study affects of chewing on teeth

affects of chewing on teeth
Image credit: Journal of the Royal Society Interface

The living organisms on earth containing teeth for the purposes of breaking down the food into small particles. There are different types of teeth like wisdom teeth in humans.  As like it depends upon the type of living creature it is.

The researchers have found the affects which are permanent on the teeth. In studying the traces on teeth with microwear identified new facts about the nature of the teeth and the diet of human ancestors.

Now a team of researchers has taken an even closer look at teeth structure. Documented the effects of chewing on the nano-sized structures that make up tooth enamel.

Hydroxyapatite Crystallites

Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of anthropology, and Ryan Tian, associate professor of inorganic chemistry, worked with researchers at the Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China, on this project.

The researchers used high-powered microscopes to observe. The effects of different kinds of wear on the nanostructures that make up tooth enamel. Enamel composed of ribbon-like strings of nanoparticles called hydroxyapatite crystallites. Further, these are stacked on top of each other and glued together by proteins.

Image credit: Journal of the Royal Society Interface

“Hydroxapatite crystallites are the fundamental units of enamel, each less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair,” said Ungar. “Most research on tooth wear to date has focused on effects at much larger scales. But we have to study enamel at this finer level to truly understand the nature of how the hardest tissue in our bodies resists wear and tear.”

Using tips made from different types of material. The researchers applied pressure to the surface of human molars, which had been extracted for orthodontic purposes. They scratched the teeth, moving the tip across the surface. To simulate the action of teeth moving against each other during chewing. They also indented the surface of the teeth, pressing the tip against the enamel to simulate the pressure caused by crushing food.

Fragmentation and Deformation


Image credit: Journal of the Royal Society Interface

The researchers observed that at every level of pressure, scratching led to more damage than indentation. But that both types of stress resulted in three different kinds of damage. “Plucking” occurs during the crystallites separated from each other. Moreover, applying more pressure on the enamel leads to “deformation,” or the bending and squeezing of the crystallites. At even higher levels of pressure, the chemical bonds holding the crystallites together broke. They called this “fragmentation.”

However, understanding the effects of chewing on this fundamental level has implications for a wide range of fields, from clinical dentistry to evolutionary biology to biomedicine.

“The findings in the surface tribological chemistry can help us understand the nature of the interfacial chemical bonding. Between the nanoparticles that Mother Nature uses to make biominerals of all types on demand,” said Tian.