Scientists in London are working on the development and release of a new type of tooth filling. It is known as bioactive glass and is designed to block cavities and repair bacterial damage. The implications of this are exciting because it can help fillings last longer and slow down the spread of cavity around existing fillings.
The new fillings are made from bioactive glass composites and release fluoride, calcium, and phosphate. These components are all needed to form tooth mineral. This could be really helpful since bacteria can work against your tooth at a microscopic level. So if there is the smallest of openings that cannot be detected visually, it can be a point of entry for a cavity. If the filling materials could help close those microscopic gaps, it could strengthen the filling and make it last longer.
Another application could be reducing the potential for tooth sensitivity and future root canals after a filling is placed. To remove tooth decay, you have to drill into the tooth and create a clean margin where cavity no longer exists. By doing this you get closer to the nerve of the tooth. If the filling material can help create an additional barrier of new tooth structure between the filling and the nerve, it lessens the chances of sensitivity.
There hasn’t been much testing on its effectiveness to incipient cavities, but there is hope that these fillings can help stop cavities before they begin to progress too deeply. An incipient cavity is tooth decay that hasn’t yet penetrated the outer tooth layer of enamel. If bioactive glass composites can be placed over the cavity without any drilling in an effort to help heal the tooth, it could make dentistry more proactive and less invasive.
We are always looking for a way to be more preventive and less invasive in providing dental care. Advancements like bioactive glass fillings wont be available for a few years, but we are excited about the possibilities they may offer.