Silver Enlisted to Stop Caries and Extend Filling Lifespans



Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have developed a new way to preserve caries-infected teeth and prolong the life of dental fillings. The technology uses specially formulated, nonstaining silver nanoparticles invented through a partnership between the university’s department of chemistry and dental school to arrest caries and make teeth more resistant to decay.

Dentists apply the product after removing decay but prior to placing the filling. The formula then diffuses into the tooth, where it can kill any remaining bacteria that may cause further decay. Researchers say the product is unique because it does not discolor the teeth, while all other available products that use silver to arrest caries turn teeth black, limiting their acceptance and use.

“We believe that our nonstaining formula will be an important step forward for oral care and public health,” said Dr. Don Schwass, senior lecturer and prosthodontist at the university’s department of oral rehabilitation. “The result will be that recurrent caries will be significantly reduced and dental fillings will last longer, providing both economic and health benefits.”

“Our contribution has been to create stabilized nanoparticles of a certain size, using a unique method of production so the end result is a clear, stain-free product,” said Dr. Carla Meledandri, lecturer in the university’s department of chemistry.

In January of 2013, the researchers filed a provisional patent application pertaining to “the assembly of micelle aggregates of surfactant micelles and silver nanoparticles, and use as an antibacterial agent.” Otago Innovation Ltd. has licensed the rights to the product to a global dental materials manufacturer for further product development.