Dentist Dr. Frank Neves poses for a photo in St. Albert, August 17, 2012.
Credits: DAVID BLOOM/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
Researchers from the University of Maryland's School of Dentistry say they have created a new cavity filling system that claims to not only kill all lingering bacteria, but also promote re-growth of the tooth structure that weakened due to decay.
This means that visiting the dentist to have an old filling replaced may one day be a thing of the past.
Instead of just limiting decay like today's fillings, the new fillings will control harmful bacteria in the mouth, the team said in a statement Saturday.
When dealing with a cavity, dentists drill out as much of the decayed section as they can to remove as much bacteria as possible to prevent it from spreading. The problem is that they are not able to remove all of it.
The researchers say the solution includes insertion of antibacterial agents in primers and adhesives after the tooth has been prepped. Once the majority of the bacteria has been cleared out, the dentist inserts primers and then applies the adhesives to the cavity to secure the filling in place. The new antibacterial components will eliminate any remaining bacteria.
"It is common for today's fillings to fail because the decay still remains under the restoration," Dr. Pamela Li, an Ottawa dentist, said in the statement. "This new research could change the way we view fillings."
The new antibacterial fillings are expected to last five to 10 years longer than today's filling, but additional research is still needed.