In recent years, there has been tremendous research and improvement in terms of the materials which are used by dental professionals for dental problems and restoring damaged teeth. While the conventional philosophy was to restore the defect, the focus of conventional dental technology has now shifted from restoration to regeneration of dental tissues. As a result, various biomaterials have been introduced which are “bioactive”, implying that they have the capability to promote or accelerate biological processes to regenerate lost dental tissues.
Let’s take a look at some of the dental biomaterials which have completely revolutionized the dental industry.
The bioactive glasses possess properties which are favorable for various dental uses. Owing to their composition, not only they can be used with different filling materials to utilize their antibacterial properties. In addition, they are also coated onto dental implant surfaces, due to their ability to promote bone formation around them through a process known as osseointegration. They are also used as scaffolds to tissue engineering in dentistry.
This is a mineral which is primarily composed of calcium and phosphate ions, which are the building blocks of teeth and bones. Dentists and material scientists have incorporated hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles into filling materials and dental cements for remineralization of the teeth and to repair tooth surfaces which have been damaged by teeth cavities.
There has been tremendous research in the field of nanotechnology for the fabrication of dental biomaterials. Metallic nanoparticles such as silver, zinc oxide, and copper nanoparticles have shown great promise in terms of their antibacterial efficacy, which can be harnessed to prevent dental infections and tooth decay. Nanocomposites of silver nanoparticles and fluoride ions have also been prepared recently, which combine the antibacterial effect of silver nanoparticles and the remineralizing action of fluoride ions.
Thanks to the CAD-CAM technology, dentists are now using zirconia for preparing life-like and extremely beautiful prostheses which are prepared from zirconia. Not only zirconia is extremely safe for use in the oral cavity, but it is also the strongest materials in the body. As a result, crowns and veneers produced from zirconia have lifelong durability and strength.
Dental material scientists have also used antibacterial polymers for enhancing different properties of filling materials, dental cements, and adhesives. Among them, chitosan and its nanocomposites have gained popularity recently. Chitosan, which is a biopolymer has a range of properties, such as safety, antibacterial action and osteoconductive (promoting bone formation), which make them favorable for dental use.
This list of contemporary biomaterials used in dentistry is not exhaustive. Newer materials are being introduced into the dental industry each day, thereby improving dental healthcare and reducing the global burden on the economy for treating dental problems. So, the next time you visit your dentist, be sure to ask him or her to show you some of the contemporary biomaterials which will be used for your treatment.