Sep 28, 2012

Tooth Patch

The Japanese have developed a tooth-patch made of an ultra thin bio-compatible film made from hydroxyapatitte, the main mineral in tooth enamel. The microscopically thin film can coat individual teeth to prevent decay or to make them appear whiter. It could also mean an end to sensitive teeth. They are aiming to create artificial enamel.

Researchers can create film 0.00016 inches thick by firing lasers at compressed blocks of hydroxyapatite in a vacuum to make individual particles pop out. These particles fall onto a block of salt which is heated to crystallize them, before the salt stand is dissolved in water. The film is scooped up onto filter paper and dried, after which it is robust enough to be picked up by a pair of tweezers. The sheet has a number of minute holes that allow liquid and air to escape from underneath to prevent forming bubbles when it is applied onto a tooth.

The film is currently transparent, but it is possible to make it white for use in cosmetic dentistry.

It might be five years before the film could be used in practical dental treatment such as covering exposed dentin, the sensitive layer underneath enamel, but it could be used cosmetically within three years. The technology is currently patented in Japan and South Korea and applications have been made in the United States, Europe, and China.