Braces may straighten out people's smiles, but unfortunately they also often cause teeth to decay, resulting in off-putting white marks. There's hope, however, as an experimental new bonding glue for braces has been shown to prevent that decay.

The problem with braces occurs when plaque accumulates in the hard-to-reach spaces around their edges. Over time, this causes the surface of the teeth to decay, that decay taking the form of what are known as white spot lesions. According to at least one study, the marks occur on almost 70 percent of people fitted with braces, and they can last anywhere from months to years after the braces are removed.

To that end, a team from Queen Mary University of London has developed a bonding adhesive consisting of a bioactive-glass composite resin that continuously releases fluoride, calcium and phosphate. These combine to form fluorapatite, a compound which both reduces plaque formation and remineralizes adjacent tooth surfaces.

It's actually the same process as is used by BioMin F remineralizing toothpaste, which was developed by the same group.

"Our latest research shows the adhesive forms protective fluorapatite – the fluoride analog of tooth mineral – around the brackets," says Prof. Robert Hill. "We hope to see the first commercially available product within two years."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Dental Materials.