Researchers vie to Use Inorganic Chemistry to Address Tooth Cavities


Inorganic chemistry is now finding use to solve a major challenge in oral medicine and clinical dentistry – to prevent build-up of plaque on teeth that leads to cavities. The research carried out at the University of Illinois at Chicago was presented at the virtual autumn meeting of the American Chemical Society.

According to dental knowledge, tooth decay happens as a result of bacteria in the mouth that metabolizes the sugar in our food to release acidic byproducts. If not addressed, the acids can eat away tooth enamel, which mostly comprises calcium phosphate mineral hydroxyapatite. Also, bacteria in the mouth creates a stubborn biofilm, known as plaque that sticks to the enamel keeping the bacteria in close contact with teeth.

Use of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles reduces Plaque, says study

To address this, a team of researchers is aiming to use cerium oxide nanoparticles as a preventive step that will put an end to this plaque, and thus will stop cavities to form on the teeth. Meanwhile, hydroxyapatite-based nanoparticles are used in some tooth formulations. However, the team of researchers vied to capitalize on the properties of cerium.

“The study reveals cerium oxide nanoparticles can hinder the formation of biofilm on teeth, and taking a cue from this, the team is vying to coat these same nanoparticles to be more suitable for oral applications. To begin with, the aim of the study is to use an agent that can help prevent forming of the biofilm, and not after when the tooth begins to show signs of decay,” said the lead researcher of the study.

To establish the use of cerium oxide nanoparticles on oral applications, the researchers planted polystyrene plates with Streptococcus mutans. This revealed such formulations reduced biofilm growth by 40% in comparison to plates without the nanoparticles.

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