October 16, 2015

Nanodiamonds might prevent tooth loss after root canals

A 3-D image of a tooth filled with nanodiamond-enhanced gutta percha,
and an individual gutta percha point.

(October 16, 2015)  UCLA Dentistry research finds that the tiny particles strengthen the compound used to fill teeth and ward off infection

People undergoing root canals may have gained a powerful, if tiny, new ally. Researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry have found that using nanodiamonds to fortify a material used in the procedure could significantly improve outcomes for patients. 

A paper on their research is published in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal ACS Nano.

Nanodiamonds are tiny particles formed as byproducts of diamond refining and mining. Thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, they have been widely explored for use in dentistry, cancer therapy, imaging and regenerative medicine, among other applications.

Each year, more than 15 million root canal procedures are performed in the United States. Dentists’ goal is to save their patients’ teeth from infected dental “pulp” — the part of the tooth that includes blood vessels and nerve tissue. During a root canal, inflamed dental pulp is removed and the empty space is then filled in with a polymer called gutta percha, which is used in part because it does not react within the body. But some root canals don’t entirely remove the infection, and residual infection after root canals can lead to tooth loss.

In addition, traditional gutta percha has certain shortcomings, including a limited capacity to ward off infection and less-than-optimal rigidity.

To overcome those issues, the UCLA team developed and tested two types of reinforced gutta percha: One strengthened with nanodiamonds and another strengthened with nanodiamonds that had been pre-loaded with antibiotics.

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