We’ve heard that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But what if I told you that diamonds can also be a tooth’s best friend? In an article in last month’s edition of ACS Nano, bioengineer Dr. Dean Ho from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry suggests that diamond is an ideal substance for root-canal treatment, the deepest type of filling for dental cavities.
Root-canal therapy penetrates the bottom of the tooth and is required for bacterial infections that have passed through both the enamel and dentin layer underneath to the pulp of the tooth’s center that is rich in nutrients and contains nerves. This type of filling is difficult to execute, complicated, and often painful. It is also sometimes ineffective in preventing the infection from returning, because either the hole created when the pulp is removed may not be fully cleaned or the gum used to fill the hole, gutta percha, is not an effective enough seal to prevent bacteria from reaching inside again.
Dr. Ho explains how the properties of nanodiamonds, diamonds that are 4-6 nanometers across, make nanodiamonds the optimal substance to be mixed into gutta percha. These diamonds have the shape of octahedrons with sharp edges. Their geometry allows them to penetrate and stick to the surfaces of the teeth. Furthermore, their facets are coated with amines, carboxyls, and hydroxyls, which are ideal for keeping antibiotic molecules in place. On the other hand, when antibiotics are incorporated in pure gutta percha, they quickly move away from the material, which allows the plug to be vulnerable to the colonization of bacteria. Another excellent property of diamonds is that with the exception of their surface groups, they are crystals of pure carbon. This abundance of carbon makes these diamonds resistant to the mouth’s harsh chemical environment. Finally, these diamonds are also economically feasible, because they are inexpensive. Traditional mining and refining create them as byproducts.
In order to test how effective this idea is, researchers left a mixture of nanodiamonds and the common antibiotic amoxycillin at room temperature for five to seven days. By this time, the antibiotic would have been able to stick to the diamonds. After adding the nanodiamonds to a portion of gutta percha, researchers shook the product with sound waves. They tested the flexibility, elasticity, ability to withstand stresses, and rate of antibiotic leakage of the new material. The scientists discovered that it was about three times stronger in all aspects than that of gutta percha by itself.
Because of these positive results, scientists expect that in two years, there will be clinical trials on patients that use diamonds in root-canal treatments.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or email@example.com to set up an appointment and consultation.
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