The purpose of this experiment was to determine what the effect of different levels of phosphoric acid is on tooth enamel. I became interested in this idea when I heard that the ingredients in soft drinks could decay teeth if they were not brushed. Then I learned that phosphoric acid was a component in soft drinks such as Coke and Pepsi. So I wanted to find out if Phosphoric acid was one of the major ingredients in pop that can decay teeth. The information gained from this experiment might help develop a new type of soft drink that is healthier for teeth. Tooth enamel is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance of the body, and with dentin, cementum, and dental pulp is one of the four major tissues which make up the tooth.
It is the normally visible dental tissue of a tooth and must be supported by underlying dentin. Ninety-six percent of enamel consists of mineral, with water and organic material composing the rest. The normal color of enamel varies from light yellow to grayish white. At the edges of teeth where there is no dentin underlying the enamel, the color sometimes has a slightly blue tone. Since enamel is semitranslucent, the color of dentin and any restorative dental material underneath the enamel strongly affects the appearance of a tooth. Enamel varies in thickness over the surface of the tooth and is often thickest at the cusp, up to 2.5 mm, and thinnest at its border, which is seen clinically as the cementoenamel junction (CEJ).
The basic unit of enamel is called an enamel rod. Measuring 4 μm - 8 μm in diameter an enamel rod, formerly called an enamel prism, is a tightly packed mass of hydroxyapatite crystals in an organized pattern. In cross section, it is best compared to a keyhole, with the top, or head, oriented toward the crown of the tooth, and the bottom, or tail, oriented toward the root of the tooth. The arrangement of the crystals within each enamel rod is highly complex. Both ameloblasts (the cells which initiate enamel formation) and Tomes' processes affect the crystals' pattern. Enamel crystals in the head of the enamel rod are oriented parallel to the long axis of the rod.
When found in the tail of the enamel rod, the crystals' orientation diverges slightly from the long axis. The arrangement of enamel rods is understood more clearly than their internal structure. Enamel rods are found in rows along the tooth, and within each row, the long axis of the enamel rod is generally perpendicular to the underlying dentin. In permanent teeth, the enamel rods near the cementoenamel junction (CEJ) tilt slightly toward the root of the tooth. Understanding enamel orientation is very important in restorative dentistry, because enamel unsupported by underlying dentin is prone to fracture. The area around the enamel rod is known as interrod enamel.
Interrod enamel has the same composition as enamel rod, however a histologic distinction is made between the two because crystal orientation is different in each. The border where the crystals of enamel rods and crystals of interrod enamel meet is called the rod sheath. Striae of Retzius are stripes that appear on enamel when viewed microscopically in cross section.
Formed from changes in diameter of Tomes’ processes, these stripes demonstrate the growth of enamel, similar to the annual rings on a tree. Perikymata are shallow furrows where the striae of Retzius end. Darker than the other stripes, the neonatal line is a stripe that separates enamel formed before and after birth. Gnarled enamel is found at the cusps of teeth. Its twisted appearance results from the orientation of enamel rods and the rows in which they lie.