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New Technique Helps Researchers Better Understand Acid’s Effects on Dentition


Researchers from the University of Surrey and University of Birmingham School of Dentistry in the United Kingdom have developed a new technique to improve scientific understanding of how acids from the caries process affect teeth at a microstructural level.

Working at a particle accelerator facility that accelerated electrons to near light speed, the investigators used in situ synchrotron X-ray microtomography to scan dentin samples while they were being treated with acid, enabling the team to build three-dimensional (3D) images of dentin’s internal structure with micrometer resolution. By analyzing the images collected over the six hours of the experiment, the researchers conducted the first-ever time-resolved 3D study — often referred to as 4D studies — of microstructural changes in dentin caused by acid.

Published in Dental Materials, the paper, “4D Microstructural Changes in Dentinal Tubules During Acid Demineralisation,” confirms that acid dissolves the minerals in various dentinal structures at different rates. Lead researcher Tan Sui, PhD, a senior lecturer in materials engineering at the University of Surrey, notes, “Relatively little is known about how acid damages dentin at a microstructural level. This new technique changes that and opens the possibility of identifying new ways to protect dental tissues.” 

The researchers suggest this development may lead to new treatments that can restore the structure and function of dentin, thus improving clinicians’ ability to prevent and manage caries.

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