Tooth Decay No More: New Antibacterial Fillings Promise To Preserve Teeth

Scientists from Israel are offering  new dental fillings that promise to make tooth decay less common in the future. The team created materials that contain strong antibacterial capabilities to prevent damage on the teeth.

Tooth decay affects almost all people across the world. In fact, it has been considered the most costly and widespread bacterial disease.  

It occurs due to presence of bacteria that causes acidification of tooth enamel and dentin. The process also triggers recurring tooth decay.

"When bacteria accumulate on the tooth surface, they ultimately dissolve the hard tissues of the teeth,” lead researcher Lihi Adler-Abramovich said in a statement. “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."

But that may be a problem of the past, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel discovered that existing resin-based composites can prevent bacterial growth on the teeth with the help of antibacterial nano-assemblies. 

“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,” Lee Schnaider, researcher and doctoral student at TAU, said. “Resin composite fillings that display bacterial inhibitory activity have the potential to substantially hinder the development of this widespread oral disease.”

The study, published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, shows the antibacterial activity of self-assembling building block called Fmoc-pentafluoro-L-phenylalanine-OH. The researchers utilized the antibacterial capabilities of this building block to create the dental composite restoratives. 

Adler-Abramovich said the building block provides low cost dental fillings with high purity, easy to embed and biocompatibility. He added it may be easy to bring the new materials to clinics after tests. 

The research team has started evaluating the antibacterial capabilities of additional minimal self-assembling building blocks to further enhance the dental fillings. They also aim to find methods to provide other medical materials, such as wound dressings and tissue scaffolds, with the antibacterial capabilities. 

Schnaider said their study shows a good example of ways to use nano materials to enhance biomedical material on a larger scale.

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