What makes teeth so strong? Nano x-rays reveal!

Our teeth are supposed to last a lifetime. And given the wear and tear they endure, it’s surprising that teeth don’t break, crack, and crumble under the pressure! We’ve long known that structures in dentin help with the preservation of teeth, and new evidence points to a more comprehensive understanding of why this is the case.

While the rest of the bone in the human skeleton can regenerate and repair itself (think of that broken arm from your childhood!), human teeth lack that ability.  Researchers look to tiny nanoparticles and fiber structures inside dentin, the layer of softer, porous material that lies underneath the hard enamel on the tooth’s surface, in order to understand precisely how human teeth can withstand such pressure over a lifetime.

The research process including micro x-rays and nano x-rays to uncover that collagen and fiber in dentin is pre-compressed. That structure allows it to respond to changes in force, pressure, and humidity as it constantly adapts to the environment.

Now that the we know teeth are strongly primarily because they’re also flexible, watch for the latest developments in composite materials to make fillings, crowns, and dental implants more closely matched to the physiology of natural teeth!


Paddock, C. (2015, June 17). “Scientists show how nanostructure of dentin stops teeth cracking.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from



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