Someday, your mouth might be blinged out with diamonds. Nanodiamonds, that is. Researchers at UCLA have determined that nanodiamonds could be used to create stronger and better dental treatments.
Nanodiamonds are byproducts of diamond mining and are much smaller than the diamonds traditionally used in jewelry — nanodiamonds are only about five nanometers in diameter. However, they're as durable as their larger diamond counterparts. Because of that, scientists believe that they could be used for dental patients who suffer from osteonecrosis, which causes bones and teeth to break down. Dental implants in such patients tend to fall out (due to the bone loss), and when surgery is required, it's invasive and painful. The use of nanodiamonds for treating this condition, though, could change all that.
During surgery to repair bone and tooth damage, surgeons use a sponge to deliver growth proteins to the mouth. However, the UCLA researchers discovered that surgery was unnecessary with nanodiamonds: the only thing required is an injection or a mouth rinse. Honestly, it couldn't be any easier. When delivered to the mouth, the nanodiamonds release the necessary proteins at a slow and steady rate to promote new bone growth. This treatment is believed to be safe and easily tolerated, although at the present, it has only been tested on cell and animal models. Human subjects are sure to be included soon, though.
Nanodiamonds are useful for more than dental problems, though. They can also be used in cancer treatments, to treat bone loss associated with osteoporosis, and during orthopedic surgery. So someday, it might not just be our mouths getting blinged out: we may be getting nanodiamonds injected into our bodies for things like broken arms and legs, too.