We routinely replace missing teeth with dental implants here in our office. Dental implants are artificial tooth “roots” made of titanium, used to anchor dental prostheses, including crowns, and implant supported bridges and dentures. One of the largest factors in successful dental implant placement is adequate, healthy bone density to anchor the post.
Unfortunately, not all patients have the proper bone in their jaw to support a dental implant. Some patients suffer from Osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones. When there is not enough blood flow, bone can start to die and break down. This makes dental implants for these patients particularly susceptible to becoming loose or failing. Osteonecrosis can be a side effect of chemotherapy.
Scientists from the UCLA School of Dentistry have discovered that nanodiamonds could be used for stronger dental treatments. Nanodiamonds are much smaller than those traditionally used in jewelry.
Currently, standard bone repair operations include inserting a sponge surgically to administer proteins that promote bone growth. This new study, led by Dr. Dean Ho, may have uncovered is an easier way to deliver these proteins. Nanodiamonds, which are invisible to the human eye, bind rapidly to the materials needed for bone growth. This process can be done through injection or an oral rinse, rather than surgery.
“This discovery serves as a foundation for the future of nanotechnology in dentistry, orthopedics and other domains in medicine,” said No-Hee Park, dean of the School of Dentistry. “Dr. Ho and his team have demonstrated the enormous potential of the nanodiamonds toward improving patient care. He is a pioneer in his field.”
Results from the study will most likely pave the way for more study. Either way, stay tuned to find out how diamonds are playing a role in oral health care.