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Investigating erosion and abrasion on natural enamel

Project Description

Erosive toothwear is the fourth most common dental condition, affecting up to 30% of European adults. Factors impacting erosive toothwear include acid exposure frequency (e.g. diet or stomach acid reflux) and abrasive factors (e.g. brush, tongue). Prevention of the condition on enamel is key to the control without which the condition can affect the whole dentition and potentially cost between £5000-£30,000 to restore. Little is known about the protective effects of pellicle, a salivary protein layer that naturally forms on the tooth surface, and how this can be modified to enhance protection of enamel from acid and abrasive factors. In addition, the role of enamel remineralisation agents (e.g. fluoride and calcium) on prevention of erosive toothwear processes is not well understood.

This project follows a successful collaboration between Unilever Oral Care and the toothwear team at Kings. Together we have developed world beating science to measure erosive toothwear on complex topographical natural tooth surfaces. This unique skill creates laboratory models far superior to the conventional polished enamel surfaces. The next step in the development is to investigate how abrasion delivered by a toothbrush and toothpaste interacts with dietary acids on natural enamel, with or without salivary pellicle. The effect of differing times of acid exposure (matched to dietary acid concentration) to varying abrasivity of toothpastes and pressure applied to the brush will test the interaction between acids and abrasion. It is believed that this interaction is the main reason why erosive toothwear progresses, but the dynamics are unknown. In addition, the role of established remineralising agents in protecting and repairing the enamel surface is likely to be a factor in the overall erosion/abrasion process. Therefore, the impact of fluoride and calcium-based technologies on erosion/abrasion will be evaluated.

Funding Notes

Fully funded place including home (UK) tuition fees and a tax-free stipend in the region of £17,009. Students from the EU are welcome to submit an application for funding, any offers will be subject to BBSRC approval and criteria.


MYLONAS P, MOAZZEZ R, JOINER A, BULL T, BARTLETT D. Detection Threshold of Non-Contacting Laser Profilometry and Influence of Thermal Variation on Characterisation of Early Surface Form and Textural Changes in Natural Human Enamel. In Press Dent Mat

MYLONAS P, MOAZZEZ R, BARTLETT D, In vitro evaluation of the early erosive lesion in polished and natural human enamel. Dent Mat 2018;34:1391-1400

MULLAN F, AUSTIN R. PARKINSON C, HASAN A, BARTLETT D. Measurement of surface roughness changes on unpolished and polished enamel following erosion. PLOS 1 2017;12:8

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