Did You Know ...

... that ZEISS helps people optimize their smiles?

A radiant smile doesn't happen by itself. Coffee, tea and fruit contain discoloring substances that tarnish our teeth on a daily basis. Over time, they turn the tooth's surface from white to an unsightly yellow. Relief comes in the guise of modern dental care products such as toothpastes containing cleaning particles known as abrasives. These act like sandpaper to remove undesirable films coating the teeth. Great care must be taken to ensure the correct consistency, granularity and quantity of the tiny abrasive grains in the toothpaste. Too much abrasion can cause lasting damage to the tooth enamel and ultimately the dentin also.

To determine a toothpaste's abrasiveness on tooth enamel and dentin, the manufacturers of dental care products used to rely on a procedure that is laborious yet also shows clear disadvantages. For instance, different laboratories carrying out this procedure on identical samples got different results. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (IWM) therefore developed a new method that not only enables abrasiveness to be examined under a microscope, but also provides scientists with clearer results when measuring the friction between the bristles of a toothbrush and the tooth enamel for various toothpastes.

Using light, scanning electron and X-ray microscopes – some made by ZEISS – scientists at the IWM can characterize the microstructure of the tooth surfaces tested. With the aid of confocal microscopy, for example, they can find traces of abrasion. Thus, the researchers can determine the abrasiveness of any given dental care product quickly and easily. They can also detect how the tooth's surface is impacted by the shape of the bristles and by the configuration of the bristles on the toothbrush. Equipped with this knowledge, the cosmetics industry can develop products that help users keep their smiles radiant and healthy.


12 November 2014