Graphene shows promise for super strong dental fillings
A team of researchers from four institutions located in Romania and St. Kitts haveworked together to determine whether graphene could be used to create moredurable dental materials. They worked to test how toxic differentforms of the material were to teeth, with promising results.
Consisting of a one-atom-thick sheet of linked carbon atoms, graphene is a pretty versatilematerial. We've seen it used to create an ultra sensitive microphone,to build the world's thinnest light bulb, and it's even been used tohelp create low-cost solar cells. Now, a team of Elsevier researchershas dreamt up yet another use for the material – dental fillings.
According to a 2011 study, we put our teeth through a lot, chewing some 800 times per meal, and as much asa million times every year. When they inevitably get damaged, we usefillings to repair them, usually with metals like silver and tin, orother materials like ceramics.
Those materials are prone to decay orsimply aren't that strong. Graphene on the other hand is much moredurable – not only does it not corrode, but it's some 200 timesstronger than steel. That makes it a good candidate for use in dentalmaterials, but before it could be considered for use, the researchershad to determine how toxic it might be.
Three different forms were tested onteeth stems cells in the lab – graphene oxide, thermally-reducedgraphene oxide, and nitrogen-doped graphene. The results showed thelatter two variants were both damaging to the cells, being eithertoxic or causing membrane damage. The graphene oxide was the leasttoxic of the group, and according to the researchers, could representa good candidate for further study.
"The results were very interestingand proved that graphene is appropriate for use in dental materials," says study co-author Dr. Gabriela Adriana Filip, of Romania's Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy. "We believe that thisresearch will bring new knowledge about the cytotoxic properties ofgraphene-based materials and their potential applications in dentalmaterials."
The researchers plan to continue theirwork, creating dental materials with graphene oxide and testing themdirectly on teeth. The results of the work so far are published in thejournal Colloids & Surface B: Biointerfaces.