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NEWS
New Tooth Cavity Protection Discovered
February 2, 2009

Clarkson University Center for Advanced Materials Processing Professor Igor Sokolov and graduate student Ravi M. Gaikwad have discovered a new method of protecting teeth from cavities by ultrafine polishing with silica nanoparticles. The researchers adopted polishing technology commonly used in the semiconductor industry (chemical mechanical planarization) to polish the surface of human teeth down to nanoscale roughness. The roughness left on the tooth after the polishing is just a few nanometers, which is one-billionth of a meter or about 100,000 times smaller than a grain of sand.

Sokolov, a professor of physics, professor of chemical and biomolecular science, and director of Clarkson’s Nanoengineering and Biotechnology Laboratories Center (NABLAB), and Gaikwad, a graduate student in physics, demonstrated that teeth polished in this manner become too “slippery” for the “bad” bacteria that is responsible for the destruction of dental enamel. As a result the bacteria can be removed fairly easily before they cause damage to the enamel.

Although silica particles have been used previously for tooth polishing, the new technique of polishing with nanosized particles has not been reported. The researchers hypothesized that such polishing may protect tooth surfaces against the damage caused by cariogenic bacteria, because it cannot easily adhere to the tooth surface and therefore can be removed easily.

The Clarkson researchers’ findings, one of the first research projects performed in the recently established NABLAB, were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Dental Research.


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