Microstructure and Toughness Mechanism of Tooth
Tooth is a kind of biomaterial in nature. It behaves favorable strength, stiffness and fracture toughness, which are closely related to its fine microstructure. The observation of scanning electron microscope (SEM) on a mature tooth shows that the tooth is a kind of natural bioceramic composite consisting of hydroxyapatite layers and collagen protein matrix. The observation also shows that the hydroxyapatite layers consist of long and thin hydroxyapatite sheets and that all the hydroxyapatite sheets are arranged in a kind of parallel distribution. The maximum pullout energy of the hydroxyapatite sheets, which is closely related to the fracture toughness of the tooth, is investigated based on the representative model of the parallel distribution. It shows that the long and thin shape as well as the parallel distribution of the hydroxyapatite sheets increase the maximum pullout energy and enhance the fracture toughness of the tooth.
B. Chen et al., "Microstructure and Toughness Mechanism of Tooth", Key Engineering Materials, Vols. 467-469, pp. 567-570, 2011