Carl Henley, DDS, supports the oral health of his Naperville, Illinois, patients through state-of-the-art dental care.

Nanotechnology may soon change the way that dentists treat cavities. Currently, many fillings fail due to secondary cavities near the original site. While traditional dentistry can remove most of the damaged tissue, it’s impossible to remove all bacteria in the tooth. Now, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore have created a composite filling that may help neutralize the bacteria and rebuild the damaged tooth.

The new filling uses a primer and adhesive containing silver nanoparticles and quaternary ammonium. These give the primer and the adhesive antibacterial properties and prevent the bacteria from creating tooth-damaging acid. The composite fillings also contain calcium phosphate nanoparticles to help regenerate the damaged tooth. In a laboratory setting, the fillings seemed to accomplish both goals. Researchers next plan to test them on animal teeth and on human volunteers in Brazil.