Nanoindentation of Human Teeth

Berry, Emily
Nanoindentation is a relatively new technique used to gain an understanding of the mechanical properties of materials. It involves creating microscopic indents in the material's surface using a pyramidal, diamond tip that applies a small load to the specimen. Based on the indentations, the nanoindenter measures variables such as applied force, displacement into the surface, and time of loading, which are used to calculate mechanical properties such as hardness and modulus of elasticity. For the purpose of this research, human teeth were indented to compare the mechanical properties at various locations on a tooth. I went through the appropriate training to handle biological samples and collaborated with a dentist so the teeth could be obtained and prepared for indentation. An analysis of the graphed data was used to determine what part of the tooth was indented and how the properties differed across the tooth. Because nanoindentation of human teeth is not common, this experiment focused on variations in the general properties of the teeth and also addressed concerns on how to preserve and prepare the samples for the best possible results. The impact of this research is a better understanding of the mechanical characteristics of human teeth and how teeth are influenced by their organic components.
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