Potential Benefits to the Dentist
Bioactive materials offer noteworthy possibilities for dentistry, including the following:
• Bioactive restoratives have a remineralization and strengthening effect on human hard tissue, which is valuable for the treatment of acid-caused tooth-enamel erosion.
• The mineral enrichment efficacy leads to an immediate and long-lasting increase of the pH level. This will help protect tooth structure from the detrimental effects of all types of acids.
• These materials chemically bond to dentin. This property will also help decrease sensitivity typically caused by bonding technique errors.
• When activated with water, these materials release ions from their composition, forming a mineral matrix equivalent to that of natural HA.
• They are effective in reducing MMP formation, and thereby capable of decreasing, if not eliminating, the collagen breakdown commonly found in many resin–dentin bonding procedures.
• Bioactive glass is effective as an adjunct to conventional surgery in treatment of intrabony defects.
The benefits of these new products appear to be significant for both the patient and provider. The use of bioactive materials should result in a long-lasting restoration. Theoretically, it should also help to repair damaged dentin while decreasing the chance for recurrent caries.
Revisiting Bioactive Materials
Clinicians may need to reeducate themselves in the area of bioactive dental materials to fully comprehend their value and benefits for both providers and patients, especially for patients at high risk. Continuing education courses covering these materials would be beneficial, and educators should review materials options along with the evidence for or against their use. At a recent International Association for Dental Research meeting, a surprisingly substantial number of research papers were presented on this class of materials. The authors anticipate seeing many more companies introducing these types of products in the near future.
Return on investment with this “new” technology seems apparent. These materials should decrease the rate of recurrent caries, remineralize dentin, decrease sensitivity, help maintain better long-term bonded restorations, repair intrabony defects, create an apical plug during apexification, and help repair root perforations and improve the results for direct pulp caps. This new class of materials is potentially exciting for the future of restorative dentistry, as they appear to offer many benefits without high cost.
About the Authors
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean of Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Steven Eisen, DMD
Department of Comprehensive Care
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
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