Photographic Moment

Lattice Pattern in Tooth Enamel

lattice pattern on tooth enamel looks like fibers in a macrame bracelet

CREDIT: OLIVIER DUVERGER AND MARIA MORASSO, NIAMS

Enamel is the hardest substance in the body and protects the surface of teeth. This scanning-electron-microscopy image shows the lattice pattern formed by enamel rods, an arrangement that confers strength and flexibility. Genetic mutations affecting enamel formation can result in defects in the thickness, mineralization, and the lattice pattern of the enamel. The defects can produce weak teeth prone to decay, which in turn can increase the risk of other health problems such as systemic infections and heart disease. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases investigators Olivier Duverger and Maria I. Morasso are using mouse models to study how genetic variation affects enamel development and health. This image was selected as a 2015 winner of the BioArt competition of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (http://www.faseb.org/Resources-for-the-Public/Scientific-Contests/BioArt...).