Sea urchins have teeth so powerful they can munch through limestone. These teeth are composed of calcite, a form of calcium carbonate, which happens to be the same material in the limestone they’re snacking on. So how do they chomp through the rock without grinding down their tusks? By aligning the calcite crystals that make up their teeth.
The structure and composition of the tip, particularly the orientation of the calcite crystals, is exquisitely controlled.
Maybe as dentists investigate how to spur humans to generate teeth like sharks, they can devise a way to make them as strong as those of a sea urchin. A scary prospect when you think about playing hockey.
Related to the dentistry post from the other day, comes word from England that even with socialized medicine, six percent of people questioned in a survey “admitted they had resorted to self-treatment using pliers and glue”.
As dentists push their fees higher and make more money on high-end services like cosmetic dentistry, a growing number of people cannot afford treatment for even minor work like fillings. And even though the dentists won’t treat those patients who can’t pay, the ADA has “fought efforts to use dental hygienists and other non-dentists to provide basic care to people who do not have access to dentists”.
“Most dentists consider themselves to be in the business of dentistry rather than the practice of dentistry,” said Dr. David A. Nash, a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky. “I’m a cynic about my profession, but the data are there. It’s embarrassing.