One of the most common dental treatments involves the filling of cavities. Cavities, often caused by tooth decay, occur when bacteria destroy the hard tissues, and eventually the organic matter of a tooth, leaving a soft surface or hole that can be detected by your dentist. In advanced stages, pain is often a symptom that a cavity is present. Treatment is fairly simple but varies based on the severity of the cavity. If the decay is not extensive, the affected area of the tooth is removed via drilling and replaced with a filling. When the decay has progressed further, leaving little tooth structure, a crown will be necessary. In extreme cases, when the decay has caused the death of the pulp of the tooth, a root canal will be performed. Treatment for cavities is ever changing as dentists and scientist continue to develop new technologies to better the detection and care of this common ailment.
A recent article from Dental Health Magazine, “Innovative Cavity Filling Material Help with Tooth Regeneration,” details a new cavity system out of the University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry. Researchers there claim they have created a filling that will successfully kill all bacteria associated with a cavity and help the tooth regenerate too. In the procedure, the dentist will still drill out the decayed tooth, but will then apply a primer on the surface of the tooth, followed by an adhesive which will help the filling to bond. The filling material, which contains silver nanoparticles and ammonium to kill the bacteria, is then applied. In addition to the antibacterial agents, the filling materials also contain minerals, such as calcium phosphate, to assist in the re-mineralization of the tooth, which may not rebuild the tooth to its original form, but will aid in the healing process.
Professor Huakun Xu, the lead scientist on the study, added that the new filling material should last much longer than traditional fillings, meaning fewer repeat treatments. He claims that the antibacterial agents and added minerals are responsible for this additional bonus. The new filling process is currently undergoing further tests to determine how effective they will be over time. It should be interesting to see where this new technology leads the common practice of cavity filling.