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Award winners (from left) Prof. Robert Hill, Dr Pushkar Wadke, Dr David Gillam and Dr Natalia Karpukhina. (Photo courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London)
Jul 3, 2013 | News Europe

New degradable particles could repair decayed teeth

by Dental Tribune International

LONDON, UK: Researchers from the UK have received the materials science Venture Prize for developing a new degradable particle that could bring toothache relief to millions. The particles, which are about the same size as small holes in teeth, are designed to block such holes and repair decayed teeth.

The particles are special glasses designed for incorporating into toothpaste and will dissolve in the mouth, releasing calcium and phosphate that form tooth mineral. This reduces tooth pain and the incidence of tooth decay, and repairs teeth.

The development could bring relief to those who are prone to tooth sensitivity. Untreated tooth decay or cavities in permanent teeth is the most common of all 291 major diseases and injuries assessed in the latest Global Burden of Disease study, affecting 35 per cent of the world’s population.

Prof. Robert Hill, head of the Dental Physical Sciences unit at the Institute of Dentistry, part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “These new particles dissolve faster than existing ones and are softer than tooth enamel. They have a more expanded open structure and this allows water to go into the glass structure faster and the calcium and phosphate ions to come out faster. Also, while existing particles are significantly harder and abrade away the enamel during brushing, our new particles will be softer.”

Tooth pain is associated with hot, cold or mechanical stimulation and is caused by fluid flow within small tubules located within the tooth. These tubules can become exposed as a result of the gums receding or through the loss of the outer enamel coating as a result of tooth decay, acid erosion or mechanical wear associated with tooth brushing.

The team behind the development led by Hill recently won the £25,000 (€29,000) materials science Venture Prize awarded by the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers. The prize is directed at projects with a specific commercial objective and is intended to enable the winner to fund the significant commercial advancement of the project to a stage at which a business may be created to exploit this technology. “This award will enable us to get our research from the laboratory into aprototype toothpaste,” said Hill. “The difficult step is getting money to enable the translation of research in the laboratory into commercial products.”

The winning team is made up of Hill along with Dr David Gillam, clinical lecturer and dentist at the Institute of Dentistry; Dr Natalia Karpukhina, an expert on bioactive glasses also at the Institute of Dentistry; and Dr Pushkar Wadke from Queen Mary Innovation.

Prof. Bill Bonfield, chairman of the Armourers and Brasiers’ Venture Prize judging panel, said: “This is a hugely exciting development that could benefit millions of people not only throughout the UK and Europe but right across the world. It meets our aim to encourage innovative scientific entrepreneurship in the UK and provide funding, which is often difficult to source, to bring new materials science research like this to market.”

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