Root-canal treatment developed

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A hybrid composite material for root-canal treatment has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Würzburg, Germany.

Root-canal treatments are necessary when tooth decay is extremely bad. A dentist will remove the nerve of a patient’s tooth and then close the ensuing canal with a filler.

If the natural crown is severely damaged, the dentist will anchor a root post in the previously filled canal using dental cement. The post provides an anchor for the composite material used to rebuild the remaining part of the tooth. The remaining part of the tooth serves as the base for the core build-up material and prosthetic crown.

It is claimed that the material developed by the Fraunhofer researchers, along with VOCO GmbH, will ensure that the crowns are bonded properly to the hard dental tissue, which is not always the case with materials that are presently used.

Their material combines a commercial inorganic-organic hybrid polymer, called ORMOCERs, with nano and microparticles to achieve an array of different properties. These root-canal materials, for instance, should not shrink as they harden, form an airtight bond with the dental material and be visible in X-rays.

The material used to rebuild the tooth, on the other hand, should have the same properties as the tooth itself.

‘Hybrid materials are well suited to these requirements,’ said Herbert Wolter, group manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg.

‘For instance, they only shrink by about 1.3 per cent as they harden, while standard materials generally shrink by two to four per cent. ORMOCERs can also be adapted to adhere to the different parts of the tooth.’

VOCO GmbH is currently producing dental preparations and beginning product development. It is hoped that the material will be commercially available in a few years.