New dental fillings keep teeth healthy (still not painless)

Dental visits are filled with that uneasy feeling until you hear whether you have a cavity. If you do have a cavity, that uneasy feeling is turned to dread. Would it make you feel better to learn that a new filling procedure could work to kill bacteria and even help regrowth in vulnerable area of the tooth?

Researchers at the University of Maryland have just announced they've been working with a cavity prepping mouthwash and with the filling and cement by adding some hard working nanoparticles. They've discovered that nanosilver and nanocalcium — at a diameter of 1/1000th the width of the human hair — work beyond just filling the tooth but also keep them healthier post-procedure.

Nanosilver has been used in dental instruments and bandages for a few years now, as it is known to kill bacteria and other dangerous microbes. It's believed the particles anchor to the cell walls of the bacteria rather than the human tooth and makes the bacteria cells vulnerable to contaminants that will ultimately kill them.

Huakun Xu and the research team have taken this idea further by taken nanosilver particles and added them to cavity prepping mouthwash and filing adhesives. This helps kill bacteria in the cavity and surrounding tooth before fillings are even put in.

Intervention at this stage is critical as the problem with most fillings happen around the edges of the cavity. The preparation is able to permeate the ttiny spaces in the tooth prior to filling and shore up the most at-risk areas.

In addition to the nanosilver, the research team has added calcium phosphate nanoparticles in the preparatory adhesive and into the filling itself. Much like the nanosilver, the calcium — a mineral vital to tooth health — is able to permeate the tooth and strengthen it.

The research team has reported on their findings on the mouthwash in the April issue of the Journal of Dental Research and with the recent announcement, The University of Maryland has patents pending and have announced they are open to receiving licensing applications.

Once licensed, the nanoparticle enhanced materials will have to be tested in human patients and run through USDA trials before it hits the market.

To know that the hassle of a dental procedure like a filling could make a person's mouth healthier in the long term is likely to take some of the edge off that dental office dread.

University of Maryland, via Livescience

Editor's Note: Because of a system error, this post was shown as having published at 2:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on May 7, 2012. The correct time that it published is 12:54 P.M. EST on May 7, 2012.

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