Microchemical and structural regular variability of apatites in “overbuilt” enamel and dentin of human molar teeth
The aim of a recent paper was to recognize the chemical and structural changes in apatites, which form both the enamel and the dentin of the human tooth. The aim was achieved by scrutinizing the linear elemental profiles along the cross-sections of human molar teeth. Essentially, the task was accomplished with the application of the Electron Probe Microanalysis method and with some additional studies by Micro-Raman spectrometry. All the trends in linear profiles were strictly determined. In the enamel zone they were either increasing or decreasing curves of exponential character. The direction of the investigations was to start with the tooth surface and move towards the dentin-enamel junction (DEJ). The results of the elemental studies were more visible when the detected material was divided, in an arbitrary way, into the prevailing "core" enamel (∼93.5% of the total mass) and the remaining "overbuilt" enamel. The material in the "core" enamel was fully stable, with clearly determined chemical and mechanical features. However, the case was totally different in the "overbuilt enamel", with dynamic changes in the composition. In the "overbuilt" layer Ca, P, Cl and F profiles present the decaying distribution curves, whereas Mg, Na, K and CO 32- present the growing ones. Close to the surface of the tooth the mixture of hydroxy-, chlor- and fluor-apatite is formed, which is much more resistant than the rest of the enamel. On passing towards the DEJ, the apatite is enriched with Na, Mg and CO 32-. In this location, three of six phosphate groups were substituted with carbonate groups. Simultaneously, Mg is associated with the hydroxyl groups around the hexad axis. In this way, the mechanisms of exchange reactions were established. The crystallographic structures were proposed for new phases located close to DEJ. In the dentin zone, the variability of elemental profiles looks different, with the most characteristic changes occurring in Mg and Na concentrations. Mg content increases more and more when passing deeper in the dentin, while Na content decreases along this route. Na concentration reaches its maximum when it is very close to the DEJ zone. But the carbonate and phosphate spatial distributions inside the dentin refute the potential conclusions drawn from the studies of Mg and Na profiles.