Tooth decay not only causes a great deal of discomfort for consumers, but the widespread issue is also incredibly costly to treat. Now, researchers believe that new, resin-based antibacterial fillings could be the long-term answer to tooth decay, as they are long-lasting and prevent the spread of new bacteria.
“Antibiotic resistance is now one of the most pressing healthcare problems facing society, and the development of novel antimicrobial therapeutics and biomedical materials represents an urgent unmet need,” said researcher Dr. Lihi Adler-Abramovich.
“When bacteria accumulate on the tooth surface, they ultimately dissolve the hard tissue of the teeth. Recurrent cavities -- also known as secondary tooth decay -- at the margins of dental restorations results from acid production by cavity-causing bacteria that reside in the restoration-tooth interface.”
Fighting tooth decay
The researchers wanted to create a filling that would do better than the traditional amalgam fillings that are metal-based.
The key was for the fillings to be resistant to bacteria in order to prevent future bacteria from growing and causing more cavities, which is typically the endless cycle consumers are faced with when they suffer with tooth decay.
In addition to being bacteria resistant, the researchers say the resin properties of the compound they created are better for fillings than the traditional composites, as those have the potential to cause mercury poisoning, aren’t very adhesive, and have a bright metal color.
“We’ve developed an enhanced material that is not only aesthetically pleasing and mechanically rigid but is also intrinsically antibacterial due to the incorporation of antibacterial nano-assemblies,” said researcher Lee Scnaider. “Resin composite fillings that display bacterial inhibitory activity have the potential to substantially hinder the development of this widespread disease.”
Because of the simplicity of the filling they’ve created, and the widespread populations it could benefit, the researchers are hoping the new fillings can be implemented for patient use in the near future.
“The minimal nature of the antibacterial building block, along with its high purity, low cost ease of embedment within resin-based materials and biocompatibility, allows for the easy scale-up of this approach toward the development of clinically available enhanced antibacterial resin composite restoratives,” said Dr. Adler-Abramovich.