If you have a cavity, the solution is a filling. We will remove decay and place a filling in the area. Tooth-colored fillings are best for this because they create a tight seal with your natural tooth material, but they still have a weakness. These fillings can’t protect your teeth from developing decay around them. In fact, this is the most common reason why fillings have to be replaced, what are described as “secondary cavities” around your fillings.

But now experiments suggest that a certain material could inhibit the growth of bacteria and protect your teeth.

young woman enjoying her dental exam

Bioactive Glass

Bioactive glass is a material that was originally developed in the late 1960s. It got its name because it’s usually a silicon-based formula that contains trace chemicals in configurations that stimulate interaction between the glass and bone. It’s been used for decades as a bone filling material–such as for augmenting bone around dental implants, but the antibacterial properties of bioactive glass only became appreciated in the late 1990s.

Researchers discovered that bioactive glass was capable of suppressing the growth of several of the most common oral bacteria (like Streptococcus mutans) and some of the most virulent gum disease bacteria (like Porphyromonas gingivalis). But there hasn’t been extensive research into how these properties might be beneficial in fillings.

Stopping Penetration

But now research shows that incorporating bioglass into fillings can prevent bacteria from penetrating between fillings and tooth material. To test the viability of this practice, researchers looked at extracted human molars which were prepared with composite fillings that either did or did not include bioglass. The samples were infected with Streptococcus mutans, then were cyclically loaded (simulated chewing) for two weeks before they were examined.

Researchers looked to see how deeply bacteria had penetrated into the space between the filling and the tooth. While bacteria were able to fully penetrate the space between tooth and filling for the normal composite samples, they were only able to get 61% of the way (on average) into the space beside fillings with bioactive glass.

While this is far from conclusive, it’s a promising finding for this material, and we’ll keep looking out for further evidence that this approach will protect the teeth of our patients.

If you are looking for a dentist in Rochester, NY that constantly works to keep ahead of the latest materials and techniques, please call  for an appointment at Contemporary Dentistry today.