Food For Thought: There's Nothing In Our Crowns That You Could Not Eat.
In the 1990's, after learning that mercury was one of the main ingredients in the several "amalgam" silver fillings he had, Dentivia's founder decided to have all of them removed and replaced. As most dentists now know, mercury is a great material for filling cavities from a strictly mechanical point of view, however, it is also a neurotoxin. A few years later, each tooth that had had the filling materials replaced began to crack, painfully. Ultimately, five of his teeth needed to be pulled and would need to be replaced.
That experience made him wonder if there were other dental materials that compromised optimum biocompatibility in favor of mechanical, cosmetic, or other considerations. The need to replace his teeth made him investigate the history of dental crowns and dentures and the material sciences relating to their design and manufacture.
After learning that while modern dental crown materials meet certain minimum standards for biocompatibility, they are not selected for consideration of their green, organic, natural, and biocompatible qualities. Finding no standard crown material that satisfied him, he decided to search for a natural and renewable material that might have biomimetic qualities like human teeth. Animal Ivory, rightly prohibited for use, was one thought that naturally first came to mind. He researched alternatives to ivory and discovered a vegetable material called Tagua (or Jarina) that grows on certain palm trees in the Rainforests of Central and South America. This vegetable ivory is found in the seeds of the Phytelephas Palm trees and has qualities of structure, appearance, and hardness that compare closely to the dentin in human teeth and bone. By treating this vegetable ivory with hydroxyapatite, the same natural mineral that gives added hardness and durability to teeth, a biomimetic and natural dental crown material was developed, and patented.
While Dentivia's patents were pending, material scientists at universities like UC San Diego began to study Tagua as a possible green and renewable alternative to plastic. The promising results of their study were reported in the Journal Nature and is available for reading in the section below. They concluded that if hydroxyapatite was added to Jarina, a.k.a. Tagua, that indeed it would be just such an alternative to plastic.
Ivorensis Prohibitus Extinctus
From the Journal NATURE in 2015
In 2015, a group of material scientists at the University of California San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, searching for possible green and renewable alternatives to plastic, investigated Jarina (Tagua) and put its natural qualities to the test. Here is what they found and recommended.