The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry an approximately $2.5 million grant over 5 years to develop stronger, longer-lasting dental filling materials with antibacterial properties to inhibit recurrent cavities and extend the life of the restoration. Currently, composite restorations have a service life of about 5 to 7 years, and their replacement accounts for 60% of dental operations.
“The leading cause for the failure of composite restorations is the development of secondary caries caused by bacterial biofilms at the restoration margin,” said Xiaoming Xu, PhD, director of biomaterials research at the school and the grant’s principal investigator. “Another cause of bulk fractures due to the weakness of the material.
While some dental materials can inhibit bacterial biofilms and reduce secondary cavities, many have had poor mechanical properties or an unacceptable, dark shade. Xu and his team have been developing antibacterial fluoride-releasing materials including dental composites, bonding agents, and sealants that have shown enhanced fluoride-releasing and recharge capabilities, promising antibacterial effects, and good mechanical properties or bonding strength.
The new grant will support further development of these materials. The researchers will test a combination of new technologies that will release antibacterial agents in response to the presence of acids, which break down tooth enamel and lead to decay. These materials also may be used in sealants, crowns and cement, and other dental applications.
“Our long-term goal is to develop a new generation of dental materials that have a high efficacy to inhibit oral biofilm formation as well as excellent physical and mechanical properties,” said Xu. “We expect that the novel dental materials developed in this project will have significantly longer service life and will be excellent candidates for future clinical trials.”