Scientists at the University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry have invented the first cavity-filling composite that also works to kill bacteria while simultaneously regenerating the tooth’s structure that has been lost to decay. Now something that has been seen as merely restorative can provide continuous control over the harmful bacteria in our mouths as well as actually rebuild our teeth.
When the bacteria that exist within the biofilms and plaque on the surfaces of our teeth come in contact with carbohydrates, they releases organic acids which dissolve the tooth’s mineral content and creates the holes we call cavities. Traditionally, when a dentist drills out the decay from a tooth, the remaining structure may still harbor some residual bacteria. Because it’s not possible to completely remove all of the microscopic decaying material from a cavity, the new nanocomposites are a huge advance since they can neutralize the harmful effects of the bacteria left behind.
Not to be outdone, these scientists have also developed an additional antibacterial substance to be added into primers and adhesives which are typically used to enhance adhesion of composites to the drilled-out cavity. These primers cover the internal surfaces, penetrating and flowing into tiny tubules inside the tooth. Dr. Huakun Xu, PhD, MS, the leader of the team, hopes that the antibacterial primer will decrease the failure in tooth restorations when decay compromises restoration margins.
Fillings made from nanocomposite with antibacterial adhesive and primer should last longer than fillings made from traditional amalgam. Dental fillings are either resin-based composites (white fillings) or traditional amalgam (silver-mercury) fillings. Amalgam fillings expand with age and can crack the tooth, while composites shrink as they cure and may pull away from the tooth causing leakage, which if uncorrected can cause recurrent decay. Patients should know that amalgam fillings last on average 13 years while composites average lifespan is almost 8 years. While studies to test the longevity of these new nanocomposites require further study, Dr. Xu believes that these nanocomposites may last 5 to 10 years longer than their present-day counterparts.
While traditional dental composites consist of resin and filler such as silica, the nanocomposite’s primary component is calcium phosphate nanoparticles that regenerate tooth minerals. The antibacterial agent consists of a base of quaternary ammonium, silver nanoparticles with a high ph. It is this high alkaline pH which limits the production of acid by the bacteria which causes the tooth decay. Antibacterial adhesives and primers will soon be marketed to general dentists and we at Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD will be using them as soon as they are available. Call me at 248-356-8790 for more information!
Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD
26206 West 12 Mile Road, Suite 303
Southfield, MI 48034