In a breakthrough, researchers claim to have developed new dental fillings that can actively repair tooth decay, prolong the life of composite fillings and reduce the need for mercury based amalgams.
The new bioactive glass composites are unique in their ability to release fluoride as well as the significant quantities of calcium and phosphate that are needed to form tooth mineral, according to researchers from Queen Mary University of London in the UK.
Professor Robert Hill, from the Institute of Dentistry, noted that while current dental fillings include inert materials, the new bioactive glass composite interacts positively with the body providing minerals that replace those lost to tooth decay.
"Our scientists and dentists at Queen Mary University of London replaced the inert tooth filling materials with our new bioactive glass," said Hill.
"Not only did this bioactive glass composite remineralise the partially decayed teeth, but it also creates an alkaline environment that discourages the bacteria that caused the initial decay," he said.
"The new bioactive glass also fills in the gaps with tooth mineral thus preventing the oral bacteria which cause tooth decay from establishing themselves.
"Research in the US suggests this will potentially prolong the life of fillings and slow secondary tooth decay because the depth of bacterial penetration with bioactive glass fillings was significantly smaller than for inert fillings," said Hill.
"We plan to translate the remineralising technology developed with the BioMinF toothpaste into restorative dental products," Richard Whatley, CEO of BioMin Technologies which has licensed the technology from Queen Mary Innovations.
"There is also huge pressure to eliminate mercury based amalgam fillings by 2020 which is outlined in a host of international agreements. Using this type of bioactive glass composite to fill cavities eliminates the need to use mercury based amalgam by offering aesthetic white fillings which help heal the tooth," Whatley added.