Enhanced Delivery of F , Ca 2+ , K + , and Na + Ions into Enamel by Electrokinetic Flows


As the outermost layer of the tooth crown, dental enamel is the most mineralized tissue in mammals, consisting of hydroxyapatite crystallites separated by long and narrow nanochannels. A major challenge in dentistry is how various molecules can be infiltrated into these nanopores in an efficient and controlled way. Here we show a robust method to transport various ions of interest, such as fluoride (F − ), potassium (K + ), calcium (Ca ++ ), and sodium (Na + ), into these nanopores by electrokinetic flows. It is verified by fluorescence microscopy, laser-scanning confocal microscopy, mass spectrometry, and ion selective electrode technique. Different ions are demonstrated to infiltrate through the entire depth of the enamel layer (~1 mm), which is significantly enhanced penetration compared with diffusion-based infiltration. Meanwhile, transport depth and speed can be controlled by infiltration time and applied voltage. This is the first demonstration of reliably delivering both anions and cations into the enamel nanopores. This technique opens opportunities in caries prevention, remineralization, tooth whitening, and nanomedicine delivery in clinical dentistry, as well as other delivery challenges into various biomaterials such as bones.

Publication Title

Journal of Dental Research