Science News

Smile Without a Cary in The World

Sun, 6th Mar 2005

Part of the show The Science of Hypnosis

Japanese researchers have developed a new filling material that does away with the dental drill by latching onto damaged tooth surfaces and integrating itself seamlessly into the tooth structure, producing an invisible mend. Decay occurs when acid produced by mouth-bacteria eats into the enamel surfaces of teeth, producing small pits. Dentists currently have to enlarge the hole, drilling away healthy tooth material, in order to provide an anchor for the filling material because it does not adhere perfectly to the enamel surface.
But the new material is a paste made of hydroxyapatite - a form of calcium phosphate - exactly the same substance that makes up the enamel itself. When the paste is added to a damaged tooth, within minutes, it seals off the affected area and bonds seamlessly to the tooth surface. Viewed under a microscope the repair is invisible. The researchers suggest that because the paste is quite acidic it initially dissolves some of the native tooth enamel, before forming new crystals which lock themselves into the tooth surface in a smooth, homogeneous layer. The results not only repair decayed teeth but can also strengthen them, preventing the problem from recurring.

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