The researchers’ revolutionary approach to protecting teeth from microbial attacks proposes the use of microscopic particles packed with self-assembling antimicrobial drugs, creating a filling which could last throughout a patient’s lifetime.
Materials scientists and bioengineers from the University of Toronto may have come up with a solution to the problem of recurring cavities caused by bacteria making its way under patients’ fillings.
According to the researchers, their proposal would allow over 100 million patients in the United States alone to save some $34 billion in dental fees to fill recurrent cavities.
Until now, it was believed that even the complete observance of dental filling seal procedures could not protect against a micro-gap forming over time, into which microorganisms would eventually be trapped and begin to multiply.
However, as the UofT study’s coauthor Ben Hatton explained, “adding particles packed with antimicrobial drugs to a filling creates a line of defense against cavity-causing bacteria.”
According to the professor, the single major hurdle to this solution over the long term has been that there is only enough antimicrobial drug packed in to last a few weeks.
But “through this research we discovered a combination of drugs and silica glass that organize themselves on a molecule-by-molecule basis to maximize drug density, with enough supply to last years,” Dr. Hatton stressed.
The researchers say these self-assembling antimicrobials allow them to pack up to 50 times as much of the bacteria-fighting drugs into the filling, considerably prolonging their ability to fight the cavity-causing microorganisms.
The UofT scientists’ next step will be to test their drug-storing particles in dental fillings over time.
Researchers from Russia’s MISiS National University of Science & Technology are working on a similar technology, testing it at a Moscow-area clinic. The key aspect setting the Russian team’s work apart from that of their Canadian colleagues is their use of metals, rather than antibiotics, as a cavity fighting agent.
The UofT researchers’ findings can be found here.