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Calcif Tissue Int. 2001 Jul;69(1):31-7. Epub 2001 Jun 27.

Collagen orientation and crystallite size in human dentin: a small angle X-ray scattering study.

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Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0758, USA.


The mechanical properties of dentin are largely determined by the intertubular dentin matrix, which is a complex composite of type I collagen fibers and a carbonate-rich apatite mineral phase. We performed a small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) study on fully mineralized human dentin to quantify this fiber/mineral composite architecture from the nanoscopic through continuum length scales. The SAXS results were consistent with nucleation and growth of the apatite phase within periodic gaps in the collagen fibers. These mineralized fibers were perpendicular to the dentinal tubules and parallel with the mineralization growth front. Within the plane of the mineralization front, the mineralized collagen fibers were isotropic near the pulp, but became mildly anisotropic in the mid-dentin. Analysis of the data also indicated that near the pulp the mineral crystallites were approximately needle-like, and progressed to a more plate-like shape near the dentino-enamel junction. The thickness of these crystallites, approximately 5 nm, did not vary significantly with position in the tooth. These results were considered within the context of dentinogenesis and maturation.

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