Japanese researchers have formulated a way to create a super-thin mineral film that simulates human tooth enamel. The discovery could lead to patches that could leave teeth looking whiter and prevent tooth decay, even for people on a steady diet of sugary snacks like, you know, everyone.
The patch is made of hydroxyapatite, the main ingredient in tooth enamel; that’s the thin, hard outer layer of your teeth that is being pretty much constantly dissolved by a steady stream of Snickers and soda. Researchers have been working for years to find a way to make artificial enamel from the notoriously hard to work with mineral. As it turns out, the solution was a simple one, that will be familiar to FPS fans — just blast whatever thing is causing you trouble with lasers.
By firing laser pulses at a block of hydroxyapatite in a vacuum, researchers were able to blast of tiny chunks of it. Those chunks then fall onto a block of salt, which, when heated, crystallizes the hydroxyapatite. When the salt is dissolved in a water bath, what’s left behind is a thin, clear hydroxyapatite film that could one day be used as a patch to cover up tooth damage and prevent further decay. The hope is to start using a white colored version of the patch for cosmetic purposes in as little as three years, with medical applications coming in five.
As far as we’re concerned, that prospect beats the heck out paying huge fat stacks of cash to someone so they will jam a drill into your skull. We can’t be the only people who have always found that deeply counterintuitive.
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