Gutta-percha may be used to fill in the empty space after inflamed pulp is removed in a root canal since it does not react with the body. But sometimes, the procedure doesn’t remove all of the infection. Also, the polymer has a limited capacity to ward off infection as well as less than optimal rigidity, which could put teeth at risk of loss.
Perhaps the solution lies in a little bling. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry have developed and tested 2 types of reinforced gutta-percha: one strengthened with nanodiamonds, and another strengthened with nanodiamonds preloaded with antibiotics.
Thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, nanodiamonds are by-products of diamond refining and mining. They have been explored for use in cancer therapy, imaging, and regenerative medicine, and they now may improve outcomes for root canal patients.
The researchers filled the teeth of human patients with nanodiamond-strengthened gutta-percha. While the compound left small gaps in the canal where bacteria could grow, computed tomography (CT) imaging showed that it filled the space as effectively as traditional gutta-percha. Next, the researchers tested nanodiamonds loaded with amoxicillin, which effectively prevented bacterial growth.
“The nanodiamond-enhanced gutta-percha combines many desirable properties into a single platform, including vastly improved mechanical characteristics and the ability to combat bacterial infection following a root canal,” said Dong-Keun Lee, a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA Dentistry’s Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology.
The research comprised UCLA scientists from multiple disciplines including materials science, nanotechnology, drug delivery, toxicology, oral radiology, endodontics, and microbiology. During the next 2 years, they plan on optimizing the formulation of the nanodiamond-reinforced -ercha and beginning clinical trials at the university.
The study, “Nanodiamond-Gutta Percha Composite Biomaterials for Root Canal Therapy,” was published in ACS Nano. It was supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening, and Beckman Coulter Life Sciences.