Queen Mary makes headway in development of tooth-repairing fillings
LONDON, UK: In May, the first toothpaste containing bioactive glass was introduced to the public at Queen Mary University of London. Now, a group of researchers from the university’s Institute of Dentistry has reported new data that demonstrate that the material has the potential to prohibit the formation of bacteria that cause caries and repair it through remineralisation when used in dental fillings.
According to Prof. Robert Hill, who led the group, the bioactive glass composite remineralised partially decayed teeth and created an alkaline environment that discouraged the bacteria that caused the initial decay. It also filled in the gaps with tooth mineral, thus preventing the oral bacteria that cause caries 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,” he said.
Currently, the average Brit has seven fillings in his or her mouth, the majority of which are of amalgam, which is placed into eight million new cavities every year, according to government figures. A new material able to repair teeth would provide the possibility of replacing the potentially toxic material and would mean a significant step forward in tooth restorative materials, according to Hill.
“There is 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,” commented CEO of BioMin Technologies Richard Whatley, who licensed the technology from Queen Mary Innovations. “We plan to translate the remineralising technology developed with the BioMinF toothpaste into restorative dental products.”
Toothpaste with bioactive glass has been on the market in the UK and elsewhere in Europe since May this year. It is currently available in pharmacies in India through a partnership between BioMin and Group Pharmaceutical and anticipated to be available in China and the US by the end of the year. Developed to adhere to tooth structure through a special polymer, bioactive glass slowly dissolves ions that form fluorapatite, a mineral also found in shark teeth, over an 8–12-hour period to make teeth more resistant to acids from food. According to Hill, the process has been proven to be more effective than the use of fluorides in conventional toothpastes or professional prophylaxis materials, which are washed away and lose their effect more quickly. In addition, the fluorapatite formed from brushing with BioMinF toothpaste has shown to effectively reduce dentine hypersensitivity by sealing open dentinal tubules in in vitro studies at Queen Mary.