Researchers at the University of Toronto have received a five-year Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant worth $939,040 to develop new restorative materials for dental caries. Their work will help tackle the problem of restoration failure, which costs North Americans billions of dollars each year, the university reports.
The researchers will focus on engineering new materials to create tooth-colored fillings that don’t degrade when they come in contact with saliva or meet with the body’s immune response. Their work also will explore root and recurrent cavities, which the researchers note are more prevalent in disadvantaged populations.
Especially in populations where oral health and hygiene are difficult or compromised, the researchers say, tooth-colored fillings tend to fail prematurely and require more frequent replacement. In fact, they say, these restorations have a 30% failure rate within five years in individuals age 50 and older.
Using unique environments developed at the Faculty of Dentistry, the researchers will be able to test new polymer materials in a range of conditions that mimic the full spectrum of conditions and forces at work in the mouth.
“We are able to replicate the interactions of restorative materials with saliva, bacteria, and the immune system for the development of a novel restorative system for cervical lesions with enhanced performance using much more rigorous testing than ever before,” said Yoav Finer, DMD, MSc, PhD, head of the study and George Zarb/Nobel Biocare Chair in Prosthodontics at the Faculty of Dentistry.
The researchers hope to commercialize the new materials through startup company Mesosil, headed by postdoctoral researcher Cameron Stewart, PhD.
“This funding further exemplifies the deep and comprehensive programs in applied biomaterials research that exists in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, with CIHR grants such as this one led by an internationally recognized clinician scientist and supported by outstanding research engineers and scientists,” said Paul Santerre, MSc, PhD, of the university’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering.
“This is an important clinical problem with especially negative effects on the health of vulnerable populations,” said Bernhard Ganss, MSc, PhD, professor and vice dean of research at the Faculty of Dentistry. “But with this kind of deeply collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, we can fundamentally change long-term outcomes for people and alter the landscape of oral healthcare.”