Are silica particles the future of tooth damage repair? Researchers at the University of Birmingham certainly think so. They recently published a study showing how sub-micron silica particles can be prepared to place essential compounds in damaged teeth via dentine tubules. The study was published in the Journal of Dentistry, and indicates how the particles may be bound to compounds such as calcium tooth-building materials.
“The dentine of our teeth have numerous microscopic holes, which are the entrances to tubules that run through to the nerve,” said Professor Damien Walmsley of the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham. “When your outer enamel is breached, the exposure of these tubules is really noticeable. If you drink something cold, you can feel the sensitivity in your teeth because these tubules run directly through to the nerve and the soft tissue of the tooth.”
“Our plan was to use target those same tubules with a multifunctional agent that can help repair and restore the tooth, while protecting it against further infection that could penetrate the pulp and cause irreversible damage.”
The restorative agents are designed to increase mineral content in both dentine and enamel. Particles function as “seeds for further growth that would close the tubules.” The Birmingham team utilized sub-micron silica particles that featured a surface coating to reduce the possibility of aggregation. They believe this “obstacle” has been dealt with effectively.
“These silica particles are available in a range of sizes, from nanometre to sub-micron, without altering their porous nature,” said Professor Zoe Pikramenou, from the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. “It is this that makes them an ideal container for calcium based compounds to restore the teeth, and antibacterial compounds to protect them. All we needed to do was find the right way of coating them to get them to their target. We have found that different coatings does change the way that they interact with the tooth surface.”
“We tested a number of different options to see which would allow for the highest level particle penetration into the tubules, and identified a hydrophobic surface coating that provides real hope for the development of an effective agent.”
Next steps include optimizing the coatings to determine particle effectiveness in blocking communication with the inside of the tooth, as the goal is to provide relief from sensitivity-related pain.