A research team led by Professor Shigeki Hontsu from the Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology at Kinki University and a team from Osaka Dental University have developed ultra-thin, biocompatible films made from hydroxyapatite. AFP is reporting the development could lead to products that repair teeth or replace damaged enamel.
“This is the world’s first flexible apatite sheet, which we hope to use to protect teeth or repair damaged enamel,” said Shigeki Hontsu, professor at Kinki University’s Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology in western Japan, AFP reported.
“Dentists used to think an all-apatite sheet was just a dream, but we are aiming to create artificial enamel,” Hontsu told AFP.
“The moment you put it on a tooth surface, it becomes invisible. You can barely see it if you examine it under a light,” Hontsu told AFP by telephone. The sheet can be made white for use in dental settings. The sheet was tested on disposed human teeth. Researchers say that they will soon be moving on to testing the material on animals and later on humans. It would take about five years for the material to be used in actual dental procedures.
Typically apatite ceramics resists bending, but the hydroxyapatite film successfully developed by Professor Hontsu’s team in 2007 is the first of its kind in the world. Due to its ultra-thinness and flexibility, it has the potential to be used for many applications in the fields of dentistry such as to prevent cavities and restore the surface of enamel. The research team and pharmaceutical firms are currently undertaking further research, working towards commercial applications of this development. Professor Hontsu and his research team have applied for a patent for its dental applications.
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