Dental caries breakthrough

The chemistry department and dental school of the University of Otago, New Zealand, have together developed a new way to preserve teeth infected by dental caries and to prolong the life of dental fillings. The new technology uses specially-formulated, non-staining silver nanoparticles which serve to arrest caries and make teeth more resistant to resultant decay. The product is applied by a dentist after removing decay but before filling, diffusing into the tooth where it eliminates any remaining bacteria.

What makes the University of Otago’s breakthrough particularly unique is that it doesn’t discolour teeth, contrasting from over products that similarly use silver to arrest caries and have reportedly turned teeth black. “We believe that our non-staining formula will be an important step forward for oral care and public health,” said Dr Don Schwass, a senior lecturer and prosthodontist in the university’s department of oral rehabilitation.

“The result will be that recurrent caries will be significantly reduced and dental fillings will last longer, providing both economic and health benefits,” said Dr Schwass. Dr Carla Meledandri, a lecturer in the department of chemistry, added that “our contribution has been to create stabilised nanoparticles of a certain size, using a unique method of production so that the end result is a clear, stain-free product.” Otago Innovation has recently licensed the rights to this invention to a global dental materials manufacturer for subsequent development.

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