Dental fillings replace the part of the tooth drilled out in order to remove decay. But if any bacteria remains, the cavity can grow right under the filling.
A new composite material, made up of silver and calcium nanoparticles, could work as a dental filling that kills remaining bacteria, so that patients don't have to make a return trip to the dentist. The material, developed by researchers at the University of Maryland, also rebuilds any structure affected by decay — essentially getting rid of the cavity altogether.
Because of their small size, the silver nanoparticles can invade the cellular structure of bacteria and other microorganisms and kill them. Calcium phosphate, also included in the composite, is responsible for building the tooth back up.
There have been questions raised about implementing these materials into toothpaste or mouthwash, but the scientific community isn’t ready to get onboard with that idea just yet. There is a lot of concern coming from scientists and researchers about the possible harmful effects of human consumption of the particles. Further testing will be conducted on volunteers to sort through the health concerns.