Crystal Growth During Remineralisation

The process by which demineralised crystals grow to become remineralised is quite complicated. During a period of supersaturation, crystal growth is possible as demineralised crystals seed new crystals from solution. But crystal growth is susceptible to poisoning by foreign substances, and hydroxyapatite growth inhibitors present in saliva can interfere with the process. Therefore, newly precipitated crystals are usually very small and contain many defects, such as missing ions, which make it more soluble. Crystals that are predominantly bathed in a large volume of solution saturated with respect to hydroxyapatite will tend to perfect themselves, as they become remineralised. The soluble parts will re-form and crystals will grow to reach their maximum natural size in a process called Ostwald ripening.1,18

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