Surface and Structural Studies of Age-Related Changes in Dental Enamel: An Animal Model

Izabela Świetlicka, Ewa Tomaszewska, Siemowit Muszyński, Michał Świetlicki, Tomasz Skrzypek, Wojciech Grudziński, Wiesław I. Gruszecki, Daniel Kamiński, Monika Hułas-Stasiak and Marta Arczewska

In the animal kingdom, continuously erupting incisors provided an attractive model for studying the enamel matrix and mineral composition of teeth during development. Enamel, the hardest mineral tissue in the vertebrates, is a tissue sensitive to external conditions, reflecting various disturbances in its structure. The developing dental enamel was monitored in a series of incisor samples extending the first four weeks of postnatal life in the spiny mouse. The age-dependent changes in enamel surface morphology in the micrometre and nanometre-scale and a qualitative assessment of its mechanical features were examined by applying scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). At the same time, structural studies using XRD and vibrational spectroscopy made it possible to assess crystallinity and carbonate content in enamel mineral composition. Finally, a model for predicting the maturation based on chemical composition and structural factors was constructed using artificial neural networks (ANNs). The research presented here can extend the existing knowledge by proposing a pattern of enamel development that could be used as a comparative material in environmental, nutritional, and pharmaceutical research.