On the R-curve behavior of human tooth enamel ☆
In this study the crack growth resistance behavior and fracture toughness of human tooth enamel were quantified using incremental crack growth measures and conventional fracture mechanics. Results showed that enamel undergoes an increase in crack growth resistance (i.e. rising R-curve) with crack extension from the outer to the inner enamel, and that the rise in toughness is a function of distance from the dentin enamel junction (DEJ). The outer enamel exhibited the lowest apparent toughness (0.67 ± 0.12 MPa m0.5), and the inner enamel exhibited a rise in the growth toughness from 1.13 MPa m0.5/mm to 3.93 MPa m0.5/mm. The maximum crack growth resistance at fracture (i.e. fracture toughness (Kc)) ranged from 1.79 to 2.37 MPa m0.5. Crack growth in the inner enamel was accompanied by a host of mechanisms operating from the micro- to the nano-scale. Decussation in the inner enamel promoted crack deflection and twist, resulting in a reduction of the local stress intensity at the crack tip. In addition, extrinsic mechanisms such as bridging by unbroken ligaments of the tissue and the organic matrix promoted crack closure. Microcracking due to loosening of prisms was also identified as an active source of energy dissipation. In summary, the unique microstructure of enamel in the decussated region promotes crack growth toughness that is approximately three times that of dentin and over ten times that of bone.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 30, Issues 23–24, August 2009, Pages 4037–4046