Fast-dissolving, toothache-relieving particles take materials prize

2 min read

Researchers in London have received the materials science Venture Prize for developing a new degradable particle which could bring relief to people with toothache.

The researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have developed new degradable particles designed to enter holes in teeth.

The particles are special glasses that can be incorporated into toothpaste and dissolve in the mouth, releasing calcium and phosphate that form tooth mineral. This reduces tooth pain, cuts back on the incidences of tooth decay and repairs teeth.

It is claimed this could bring relief to the estimated 20 million adults in UK who are prone to tooth sensitivity.

The team behind this development, led by Prof Robert Hill from Queen Mary, University of London have won the £25,000 materials science Venture Prize, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.

‘These new particles dissolve faster than existing ones and are also softer than tooth enamel,’ said Prof Hill in a statement. ‘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 tubes located within the tooth. These tubes 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. These new bioactive particles can re-mineralise the holes via the release of calcium and phosphate ions.

‘This is a hugely exciting development which could benefit millions of people not only throughout the UK and Europe but right across the world,’ said Prof Bill Bonfield, chairman of the Armourers & Brasiers Venture Prize judging panel. ‘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.’ 

In addition to Professor Hill the team comprises Dr David Gillam clinical lecturer and dentist, Dr Natalia Karpukhina an expert on bioactive glasses and Dr Pushkar Wadke from Queen Mary Innovations.

‘This award will enable us to get our research from the laboratory into a prototype toothpaste, said Prof Hill. ‘The difficult step is getting money to enable the translation of research in the laboratory into commercial products.’

The latest Global Industry Analysts report outlined that the total world market for toothpaste is forecast to reach $12.6bn (£8.1bn) by the year 2015. This increase will be led by product innovations, rising population levels and greater awareness about oral hygiene.