Nanotechnology, which deals with molecular and atomic structures under 100 nanometers in size, has made its mark on the skincare industry over the past few years. And now, an endodontics professor at the Medical College of Georgia is hoping to harness it for the purpose of improving aesthetically appealing dental fillings.
Many people choose composite resin fillings because they match the tooth, making them undetectable. However, they don’t last as long as metal fillings, with research showing half need to be replaced within 10 years. This is largely due to spaces in the tooth’s collagen network that the resin adhesive doesn’t quite fill after the dentist etches away some dentin.
Dr. Franklin Tay is working on a nanotechnology process that will grow microscopic, crystals to fill in the demineralized gaps among the collagen. Using a mineral and protein compound already found in our teeth, he will develop crystals of an ideal size to be guided into the trouble-making spaces with a special delivery system to ensure a stronger bond, which would consequently lead to longer-lasting fillings.
Although this would be an exciting improvement in dentistry, Dr. Tay can see this use of nanotechnology making an even bigger impact on cavity treatment farther down the line.
“Our end goal is that this material will repair a cavity on its own,” Dr. Tay explains, “so that dentists don’t have to fill the tooth.”
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