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Predicting Failure in Mammalian Enamel

Published

Author(s)

Brian R. Lawn, James J. Lee, Paul Constantino, Peter Lucas

Abstract

Dentition is a vital element of human and animal function, yet there is little fundamental knowledge about how tooth enamel endures under stringent oral conditions. This paper describes a novel approach to the issue. Model glass dome specimens fabricated from glass and back-filled with polymer resin are used as representative of the basic enamel/dentine shell structure. Contact loading is used to deform the dome structures to failure, in simulation of occlusal loading with opposing dentition or food bolus. To investigate the role of enamel microstructure, additional contact tests are conducted on two-phase materials that capture the essence of the mineralized-rod/organic-sheath structure of dental enamel. These materials include dental glass-ceramics and biomimicked composites fabricated from glass fibers infilrated with epoxy. The tests indicate how enamel is likely to deform and fracture along easy sliding and fracture paths within the binding phase between the rods. Analytical relations describing the critical loads for each damage mode are presented in terms of elemental material properties (hardness, modulus, toughness) and tooth geometry variables (enamel thickness, cusp radius). Implications in dentistry and anthropology are discussed.
Citation
Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Volume
2

Keywords

anthropology, dentistry, enamel, teeth
Created January 16, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017