Dental Tribune Europe

Research discovery could help create stronger, more durable dental fillings

By Brendan Day, DTI
June 15, 2020

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada/LONDON, U.K.: Given that more than 2.3 billion people are estimated to suffer from dental caries, any potential advances in dental filling material could benefit a large proportion of the world’s population. By investigating the structure of certain composite materials, an international team of researchers has discovered a method that may well improve these materials and subsequently lead to stronger dental fillings.

The researchers, who are from Canada, the U.K., Norway and the U.S., set out to understand more about photoactivated resin-based composites, which are commonly used in a variety of medical and dental situations, including as a material in dental fillings. Though much is known about the chemical formulation of these composites, the way in which filler particles affect their polymerization has been poorly understood to this point.

To help close this knowledge gap, the research team employed wide-field mid-infrared imaging at the University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian Light Source, a synchrotron light source facility, to closely examine the behavior occurring within the matrices of various composites. By doing so, the researchers were able to demonstrate that added filler particles modify the reaction of these composites when setting.

Prof. Owen Addison, adjunct professor of dentistry at the University of Alberta and chair of oral rehabilitation at King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, was the lead author of the study. He told Dental Tribune International that this discovery could inform predictive models of composite material behavior and may improve the performance of the materials.

“These findings help dental practitioners in two ways,” Addison said. “Directly, they provide a new form of evidence that strengthens the argument that current resin composites are highly sensitive to photo-curing regimens and that dentists must recognize that adherence to recommended protocols is a must. Indirectly, this new approach will be a valuable tool to help guide the development of new generations of photo-cured composites.”

Addison further stated that these findings are part of an ongoing research project that will continue to develop these methods. “Over the next 12 months, we will also explore new approaches to optimize polymerization of the composite at interparticle length scales,” he added.

The study, titled “Origin of micro-scale heterogeneity in polymerisation of photo-activated resin composites,” was published online on April 15, 2020, in Nature Communications, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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