Effect of orientation on the in vitro fracture toughness of dentin : the role of toughening mechanisms

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3955-3968
Journal / PublicationBiomaterials
Issue number22
Online published23 May 2003
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


Toughening mechanisms based on the presence of collagen fibrils have long been proposed for mineralized biological tissues like bone and dentin; however, no direct evidence for their precise role has ever been provided. Furthermore, although the anisotropy of mechanical properties of dentin with respect to orientation has been suggested in the literature, accurate measurements to support the effect of orientation on the fracture toughness of dentin are not available. To address these issues, the in vitro fracture toughness of dentin, extracted from elephant tusk, has been characterized using fatigue-precracked compact-tension specimens tested in Hank's balanced salt solution at ambient temperature, with fracture paths perpendicular and parallel to the tubule orientations (and orientations in between) specifically being evaluated. It was found that the fracture toughness was lower where cracking occurred in the plane of the collagen fibers, as compared to crack paths perpendicular to the fibers. The origins of this effect on the toughness of dentin are discussed primarily in terms of the salient toughening mechanisms active in this material; specifically, the role of crack bridging, both from uncracked ligaments and by individual collagen fibrils, is considered. Estimates for the contributions from each of these mechanisms are provided from theoretical models available in the literature.

Research Area(s)

  • Collagen, Dentin, Fracture toughness, Orientation, Toughening mechanisms, Tubules