Dental Fillings May Fight Bacteria and Regenerate Tooth Structure

Huakun Xu

Huakun Xu, lead researcher

Remember when it was such a huge technological advance to have porcelain dental fillings over the metal fillings? It was so nice to be able to explain to patients that if they got fillings, no one would be able to tell due to the porcelain composite. New research suggests that future dental fillings will not only fight the cavity-causing bacteria, but they will also stimulate growth of tooth tissue.

“Tooth decay means that the mineral content in the tooth has been dissolved by the organic acids secreted by bacteria residing in biofilms or plaques on the tooth surface,” says Huakun Xu, PhD, MS, director of the Division of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering in the University of Maryland School of Dentistry’s Department of Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry. “These organisms convert carbohydrates to acids that decrease the minerals in the tooth structure.”

When a dentist drills out a cavity, the main purpose is to remove all of the harmful bacteria that caused the decay, but drilling isn’t able to tackle it all. Xu’s nanotech fillings, however, will be able to do just that. [..Read More]

Learn How to Brush with Beam’s Bluetooth Toothbrush

Beam Technologies Bluetooth Toothbrush

Beam Technologies Bluetooth Toothbrush

Apps for our smartphones enable us to do so many things, like count calories, track exercise, and announce what we’re watching on TV. And now, coming very soon, an app for iOS and Android will help you monitor your oral hygiene routine.

A new toothbrush from Beam Technologies can monitor a user’s brushing habits and transmit the data via Bluetooth to its respective app. The app uses this data to built up the user’s oral hygiene profile according to how long and how often the user brushes his or her teeth.

The toothbrush is manual, not electric, but it still comes with a replaceable head. This way, users will only need to replace the heads instead of the entire brush. The app can be synched up with multiple heads, so the user will still only have one tracking profile. The app will also alert the user when it is time to replace the head, and then will provide a handy online method for ordering new brush heads.

But wait! There is more![..Read More]

Take a New Smile on a Test Drive

PreNew PreView

Courtesy of Jason J. Kim

If you’re needing or looking into a cosmetic dental procedure to help restore your smile, wouldn’t you like to know and see exactly how you will look? You can usually test drive a car before you buy, which is something you will invest thousands of dollars in and have to use every day for at least 2-3 years. With a dental procedure, that’s also an investment of thousands of dollars and it’s something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. So yes, most of us would like to know from the get-go exactly how a costly dental procedure will improve our smile or give us what we’re looking for in a procedure.

A new dental technology is on the horizon that will allow patients to take their future smiles for test drive.

Called PreNew PreView (PNPV), the technology creates a digital smile preview that will fit over the patient’s existing teeth to show them exactly how they will look post-procedure. Dentists have been able to create images that would show what the patient could look like before and after the treatment, but those images won’t give the patient the full experience they would have in actually seeing how they would look with the new teeth. With the PNPV, patients can see how the teeth will look when they’re naturally smiling, talking, etc.[..Read More]

New Plasma Brush Could Be a Painless Way to Fill Cavities

Plasma Brush

Image Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Who would be excited about the possibility of a painless way to replace your dental fillings? Every patient and every dentist in the world, that’s for sure. Thanks to engineers at the University of Missouri, they are one step closer to finalizing a method that will do exactly that.

The researchers have been collaboratively working with designers at Nanova, a company that designs and patents medical devices, to create a plasma brush. They have moved into human clinical trials for testing, and if these go as well as expected, dentists could have this brush by the end of 2013.[..Read More]

New Sleep Apnea Treatment: Dentistry

Sleep Apnea

Courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry

People who are unfortunately afflicted with sleep apnea–a sleep disorder that consists of abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep, particularly with snorers–often visit sleep clinics or their primary care physicians for treatment. Many are prescribed CPAP machines or referred for surgical procedures such as tonsillectomies or the Pillar procedure, but there has been a new breakthrough in sleep apnea treatments, and it’s actually come from the world of dentistry.

Sleep dentistry has recently emerged, which, as it sounds, focuses on dental treatments to help sleep apnea. According to the Dental Tribune, dentists can treat the sleeping disorder because “they understand how occlusion and the position of the jaw can influence a patient’s airway.”

Instead of prescribing CPAP, which is something many patients dislike, sleep dentists can create oral appliances perfectly customized for the patient’s mouth that attends to exactly what is causing the apnea. Except in extreme circumstances, these devices most often stop sleep apnea (and snoring!) completely and eliminate all suggestions for surgery.

Several dentists have already seen a growing demand for help with sleep apnea, thanks to Google research pointing out a sleep dentistry option to those looking to avoid CPAP machines and surgery. Dr. Mark Weiser of Santa Barbara, California has echoed the same. “A lot of the appliances I’m making are for CPAP patients that can’t stand their mask and whatnot, so they go to Google and look for other options,” he said.

Dr. Don Lawrence, a dentist in Corpus Christi, Texas, explained, “As a dentist, I feel I have an opportunity to ‘bridge the gap’ so to speak, and help catch more cases of sleep apnea. They’re in my chair, and it doesn’t take that much time to ask some simple questions that tell whether or not a sleep study is warranted.”

If you are a chronic snorer or have sleep apnea or know someone who has either, be sure to talk to your dentist and see if sleep dentistry treatments can easily help you without visiting a sleep clinic.