The world of modern dentistry is continuously evolving and expanding. Just like the medical field, new technologies and advancements regarding teeth are being made every day. So when the staff at Sandcreek Dental in Idaho Falls, ID came across this article, we just had to share it with our readers. One of the most common services offered in general dentistry is routine teeth cleanings. Unfortunately, many of the therapeutic agents added to teeth during a cleaning, which help to prevent plaque and tooth decay, are washed away by saliva before they can take effect. This has been an obstacle dentists have been trying to battle for years, which is why they tell you not to eat for a certain amount of time after a teeth cleaning. This is an effort to give the plaque-fighting agents as much of a chance as possible because the act of swallowing also washes them away. With the odds already stacked against the cavity battling meds in your mouth from the presence of saliva, advising you not eat for an hour is the best aid dentists can give them.
Well, thanks to a team of researchers led by Danielle Benoit at the University of Rochester and Hyun Koo at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, a way has been found to deliver these antibacterial agents within the plaque itself, despite the presence of saliva. “We had two specific challenges,” said Benoit. “We had to figure out how to deliver the antibacterial agent to the teeth and keep it there, and how to release the agent into the targeted sites.”
The agent is known as farnesol, and to deliver it to the targeted sites the researchers created a spherical mass of particles which was referred to as the nanoparticle carrier. This is big science talk for what basically means a cloud that carried the agent to the place it needed to be. Plaque is made of something called polymers. Bearing this in mind the researchers constructed the nano cloud out of positively charged segments of polymers. Inside the nano cloud they also secured the agent with hydrophobic and pH-responsive polymers. Hydrophobic means that the agent would not mix with water. This means that the saliva in your mouth would not dilute it.
In an amazing discovery, the positively charged outer layer of the nano cloud was able to stay in place at the surface of the teeth because enamel in made up in part of negatively charged particles. Think magnets. Positive and negatives stick to each other. However, the researcher still weren't certain that the particles would stick due to the fact that teeth are coated in saliva. Not only did the agent stick to the teeth, but it actually bonded with the existing plaque on the teeth, using it as a sort of anchor. That’s right. The agent used plaque, the substance it was supposed to kill, to help keep it in place so it could more effectively wipe it out.
Hopefully, this new technology can be incorporated into teeth cleanings as soon as possible, providing of course it is deemed safe and effective. Either way, this discovery is a giant leap in the direction of the continuously evolving methods of fighting tooth decay. What’s not to smile about?