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Nanomechanics and morphology of salivary pellicle

  • Michelle E. Dickinson (a1) and Adrian B. Mann (a1)


Acquired salivary pellicle is a thin protein-rich film formed by the adsorption of saliva onto teeth. It plays important roles in lubrication during mastication and protecting the teeth from chemical attack. Pellicle can become colonized by bacteria to form dental plaque which can lead to dental caries if the bacteria are acidogenic. Abrasive polishing with a dentrifice is used periodically to remove the pellicle from teeth. Pellicle can interact with dietary polyphenolic compounds (tannins) to create extrinsic stains on the tooth surface. The staining can modify the pellicle's mechanical properties and change its morphology resulting in a “squeaky” feeling when the tongue is rubbed over the teeth. Atomic force microscopy imaging and nanoscale mechanical measurements show that unstained pellicle has a dense undulating morphology and is a surprisingly stiff, viscoelastic solid. In contrast, tannin-stained pellicle has fewer but larger surface undulations and exhibits substantial viscous creep.


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b)Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: This author was an editor of this focus issue during the review and decision stage. For the JMR policy on review and publication of manuscripts authored by editors, please refer to


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Nanomechanics and morphology of salivary pellicle

  • Michelle E. Dickinson (a1) and Adrian B. Mann (a1)


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