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The role of mesoscopic modelling in understanding the response of dental enamel to mid-infrared radiation

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Vila Verde, A., Ramos, M. M. D., & Stoneham, A. M. (2007). The role of mesoscopic modelling in understanding the response of dental enamel to mid-infrared radiation. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 52(10), 2703-2717. doi:10.1088/0031-9155/52/10/005.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-39D3-5
Abstract
Human dental enamel has a porous mesostructure at the nanometre to micrometre scales that affects its thermal and mechanical properties relevant to laser treatment. We exploit finite-element models to investigate the response of this mesostructured enamel to mid-infrared lasers (CO 2 at 10.6 µm and Er:YAG at 2.94 µm). Our models might easily be adapted to investigate ablation of other brittle composite materials. The studies clarify the role of pore water in ablation, and lead to an understanding of the different responses of enamel to CO 2 and Er:YAG lasers, even though enamel has very similar average properties at the two wavelengths. We are able to suggest effective operating parameters for dental laser ablation, which should aid the introduction of minimally-invasive laser dentistry. In particular, our results indicate that, if pulses of ≈10 µs are used, the CO 2 laser can ablate dental enamel without melting, and with minimal damage to the pulp of the tooth. Our results also suggest that pulses with 0.1–1 µs duration can induce high stress transients which may cause unwanted cracking.