image: soon to be a thing of the past?
A research team led by Dr Jirai Sun at the ADA Foundation Dr Anthony Volpe Research Centre is in the process of developing a new, improved generation of dental resin composites. The team have received a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to support the project expected to devise the composites that the next generation of dentists will be using on their patients.
Dr Sun said: “For dental composites, there are three major parts. Resin networks, fillers, and coupling agents which connect the fillers and the resin networks. My projects focus on these three components.”
This new project will see Dr Sun and his team attempt to solve the challenges surrounding longevity for current dental resin composites. Dr Sun explained: “The current dental resins were invented by Dr Rafael Bowen in 1962, and have served well in treating cavities for decades. They are good, but they have limitations.
“It’s in the early stage, but our concept is proven. With the current dental resins, we observed significant weight loss and mechanical performance reduction after only 16 days under enzymatic challenges. In contrast, our new resins showed no change.”
Dr Sun also confirmed that their new method will fill microcracks that might cause failure to fillings without any external intervention. In addition, this self-healing system is made with clinically tested, biocompatible materials, which makes it readily applicable to medical devices.
When all is said and done, Dr. Sun and his team might produce a dental composite that he said is a "dream come true": strong, durable, nontoxic, self-healing, and able to release antimicrobial drugs when needed.