A group of researchers have recently found that giant pandas have particularly clever tooth enamel1, which can recover its structure and geometry to counteract2 early stages of damage.
The team, consisting of members from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), the University of Science and Technology of China, Lanzhou University of Technology, and the University of California Berkeley, believe that their observations could be utilized3
in the tooth enamel of all vertebrates, including humans, and inspire the design of artificial durable4 ceramics5
Teeth are animals' natural weapons of attack and defense6
and tools for chewing food. Pandas are the representative animal with sharp teeth. Ninety-nine percent of their food is bamboo, and the teeth are the key for them to eat that food.
"The tooth enamel of giant pandas is capable of partially7
recovering its geometry and structure at nano- to microscale dimensions autonomously8
to counteract the early stage of damage," said Liu Zengqian, a professor from the Institute of Metal Research under the CAS and a member of the research team.
The ingenious design of the panda's tooth enamel allows it to withstand a daily diet of bamboo – a material of remarkable10
strength and toughness. When there is an impact on their enamel, a variety of different deformation mechanisms11
place to mitigate12
the growth of small cracks and prevent the formation of large cracks.
During the process, hydration plays a critical role. The presence of water decreases the width of any cracks that do form, with only a minor13
cost in terms of hardness.
"Tooth enamel possesses an exceptional durability14
and plays a key role in the function of teeth. However, it exhibits a remarkably15
low resistance to the initiation16
of large-scale cracks comparable to geological minerals," said Robert O. Ritchie, another researcher.