Study finds mussel-derived compound enhances durability of dental filling treatment

dental filling durability
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Researchers from Hong Kong and China have found that a compound found in mussels helps increase the durability of a dental filling.

In an article published in Materials Today Bio, a collaboration between the University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University, and the Peking University Shenzhen Hospital explain why this is a promising clinical finding for the future of dental filling treatments.

A dental filling is commonly used to restore tooth decay and broken teeth. Its durability highly depends on the longevity and stability of the bond between the compound (resin) and the hard tissue of the tooth (dentin). Here is where mussels play a role.

Small shellfish widespread in the marine environment, mussels offer unique wet adhesion properties which have long been of interest to the scientific community. Thus, the interaction between mussel plaques and substrates under humid environments has been extensively studied for insights on potential clinical applications. 

This study revealed that a compound found in an adhesive protein in mussels could strengthen the resin-dentin bond.

“Mussels need to maintain their adhesiveness under harsh marine environments, including humidity, drastic change of water temperature and pH value, sudden shocks and so on,” lead researcher Professor Cynthia Kar Yung Yiu said.

“These are similar to the daily activities that happen in the oral cavity. Our research aimed to understand the adhesive properties of the compounds from mussels, which may improve the durability and longevity of dental fillings.”

In a usual dental filling procedure, the dentist first removes the decayed tooth structure and fills the cavity with a tooth-coloured restoration using a dental adhesive to glue the filling to the tooth structure. However, the durability of this bond can be affected by several factors, such as the humidity inside the oral cavity and repeated mechanical stress induced by chewing. Therefore, it remains a clinically significant challenge for the dentist as well as the patient as it leads to frequent replacement of the dental fillings at extra costs.

This study revealed that the wet adhesive property of mussels is attributed to the amino acid Dopa which they secrete. Based on the result, the team successfully applied N- (3,4-dihydroxyphenethy) methacrylamide (DMA), a mussel-derived compound, as a dental adhesive. 

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