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Calcif Tissue Int. 1986 Apr;38(4):197-208.

Changes in heated and in laser-irradiated human tooth enamel and their probable effects on solubility.


Enamel of intact human teeth laser irradiated in vitro under certain conditions is known to have less subsurface demineralization than unirradiated enamel on exposure to acid; consequently, the potential use of laser irradiance to reduce caries is apparent. The laser-induced physical and/or chemical changes that cause this reduced subsurface demineralization are not known. A laser-irradiated tooth enamel surface will have a temperature gradient that decreases towards the dentin junction. Dependent on irradiant conditions, the temperature may range from greater than 1400 degrees C at the surface to near normal at the dentin-pulp junction. Along this steep temperature gradient, different compositional, structural, and phase changes in the tooth enamel are to be expected. Identification of changes occurring along this gradient has bearing on understanding the dissolution reduction mechanism and, in turn, optimizing its effect. Changes in laser-irradiated material from the highest temperature region have been characterized, but those occurring in sequential layers of decreasing temperatures have not. Since the laser-induced changes are expected to primarily arise from localized heating, previously reported thermally induced changes in tooth enamel on heating in conventional furnaces were utilized to infer corollary changes along the gradient in laser-irradiated tooth enamel. These thermally inferred changes which resulted in modifications in the tooth enamel apatite and/or newly formed phases were correlated with their probable effects on altering solubility. A temperature gradient range from 100-1600 degrees C was considered with subdivisions as follows: I, 100-650 degrees C; II, 650-1100 degrees C; and III, greater than 1100 degrees C. Two of the products formed in range III, alpha-Ca3(PO4)2 and Ca4(PO4)2O, and also identified in the fused-melted material from laser-irradiated tooth enamel, are expected to markedly increase solubility in those regions that contain considerable amounts of these compounds. Products and changes occurring in range II, separate phases of alpha- and/or beta-Ca3(PO4)2 and a modified phase of apatite, may increase or decrease the solubility depending on the Ca/P ratio and the resultant amounts of alpha-, beta-Ca3(PO4)2 formed. Modifications in tooth enamel apatite effected in range I are expected to decrease its solubility; the formation of pyrophosphate in this range may have a substantial effect on reducing the solubility rate.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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