New Tooth Cavity Protection: Nanoparticles Make Surface Too Slippery For Bacteria To Adhere

Are Cavities A Thing of The Past?

(December 22, 2008) Science Daily recently released news of new research conducted at Clarkson University which may revolutionize dental cavity protection. Professor Igor Sokolov and graduate student Ravi Gaikwad have discovered a way to protect teeth from cavities by polishing them to a before-unheard-of level of smoothness using ultra-fine silica nanoparticles.

The researchers utilized polishing technology commonly used in the semiconductor industry called chemical mechanical planarization to polish human teeth down to a nanoscale level of smoothness. Only a few nanometers of roughness is left on the tooth which is equivalent to 100,000 times smaller than a grain of sand.[1]

The researchers showed that teeth polished in this way are so smooth and “slippery” that the destructive bacteria known to attack and destroy dental enamel cannot adhere to the surface as before.[2-4] It can then be easily removed from the tooth enamel before damage is done. The image below shows the normal surface vs. the polished surface under ultra high magnification.

Polishing teeth with silica particles has been used before, however, the use of nanosized particles has never been reported. In the final analysis, the researchers believe that this polishing process may ultimately protect teeth from the cavity causing effects of bacteria because the bacteria can be more easily removed from polished tooth surfaces.

Final Thoughts

This is interesting research. I don’t know how practical this process is at this time, as far as instrumentation or equipment is concerned. This is new research so it could be several years away.

Basic dental hygiene will always be the key to combating dental disease processes (tooth decay, cavities, periodontal disease). Anything that will improve and simplify the removal of bacterial plaque (the causative agent of dental disease) from teeth will be welcomed.

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Suwanee, GA 30024

  1. Clarkson University. “New Tooth Cavity Protection: Nanoparticles Make Surface Too Slippery For Bacteria To Adhere.” ScienceDaily 22 December 2008. 12 January 2009 .
  2. Department of Physics, Clarkson University, 8 Clarkson Ave., Potsdam, NY 13699, USA;
  3. NanoBio Laboratory (NABLAB),
  4. Dept. of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science, and NY Center for Material Processing (CAMP), Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13699, USA

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