Today’s post has potentially disrupting implications on one of the most common dental procedures; getting a filling. For those with teeth nice enough to have never had one, the best way to conceptualize it is building materials that are used to restore a tooth to what it was in terms of shape, size and function. Traditionally, these restorative building materials have either been precious metallic alloys, mainly highly purified gold or tooth coloured composite fillings that are resin based.
For the uninitiated, the process of repairing a tooth with a filling involves drilling into the tooth’s structure in order to properly make room for the filling materials. Since cavities are caused by bacteria, and those are some pesky mothers, it is common for some of the bacteria to travel further in to the tooth. This can lead to further cavities, known as secondary caries that form around the filling which are rendered helpless against the bacteria.
Or are they? A highly qualified team of dentists and scientists at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is helping fillings and your teeth fight back in a big way. The genius creation known as nanocomposites contains antibacterial agents that exist to knock harmful bacteria out. Firm believers in a full level of effort, these same agents are included in the primer and adhesives used to secure the filling. “The reason we want to get the antibacterial agents also into primers and adhesives is that these are the first things that cover the internal surfaces of the tooth cavity and flow into tiny dental tubules inside the tooth,” shared the University’s professor Huakun (Hockin) Xu, PhD, MS.
Amazingly, these nanocomposites have also been created with restoration in mind, with strategically added calcium phosphate nanoparticles in the building materials that stimulate mineral regeneration within the tooth. This element would allow these fillings to long outlast current ones which typically loosen and break with wear and tear and/or trauma between 5 to 10 years. “The bottom line is we are continuing to improve these materials and making them stronger in their antibacterial and remineralizing capacities as well as increasing their longevity.”
The team behind the promising project has teamed up with the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil to begin testing the patent pending nanoparticles. Until then, human volunteers are lining up to have some of the fillings of the future added to their smiles. What are your thoughts on these proactively antibacterial restorative materials? Would you choose them over other alternatives for your next filling?
Source: Science Daily
Photo: Dental Tribune