Dental fillings could last twice as long

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long-lasting dental fillings
Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D. from the OHSU School of Dentistry is working to develop a filling material that is two times more resistant to breakage than standard fillings. Credit: OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff

A compound used to make car bumpers strong and protect wood decks could prevent return visits to the dentist’s office, a team of US researchers have found.

The researchers from the OHSU School of Dentistry in Portland, Oregon, have created a filling material that’s two times more resistant to breakage than standard fillings.

The new filling uses the additive thiourethane, which is also in protective coatings for cars and decks.

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The researchers—who have published their findings in Scientific Reports—have also developed an adhesive that is 30 per cent stronger after six months in use than adhesives that are currently used to keep fillings in place. 

Combined, the new adhesive and the composite are designed to make longer-lasting dental restorations.

“Today’s dental restorations typically only last seven to 10 years before they fail,” said Carmem Pfeifer, associate professor of restorative dentistry (biomaterials and biomechanics) in the OHSU School of Dentistry.

“They crack under the pressure of chewing, or have gaps form between the filling and the tooth, which allow bacteria to seep in and a new cavity to form. Every time this happens, the tooth under the restorations becomes weaker and weaker, and what starts as a small cavity may end up with root canal damage, a lost tooth or even life-threatening infections.

“Stronger dental materials mean patients won’t have to get fillings repaired or replaced nearly as often,” Pfeifer added.

“This not only saves them money and hassle, but also prevents more serious problems and more extensive treatment.”

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