A coating could protect teeth from decay

12 October 2020 | Muriel Cozier

Cerium nanoparticles reduce the ability of bacteria to form biofilm

Researchers have developed a novel dental coating based on cerium nanoparticles which could one day be used to prevent the formation of the biofilm on teeth. The work was presented at the ACS Fall 2020 virtual meeting.

Streptococcus mutans and other bacteria associated with tooth decay establish colonies that lead to the formation of the biofilm known as plaque. The bacteria digest sugar, producing acids that attack enamel and eventually lead to tooth decay.

Researchers compared the in vitro activity of various cerium salts in limiting the ability of S.mutans to form biofilms, and found that certain cerium oxide nanoparticles were effective. The best nanoparticles for limiting biofilm growth did not kill S.mutans and were less toxic to human cells found in the oral cavity than silver salts presently used by dentists once tooth decay has begun.

‘It is estimated there are over 700 species of bacteria [in the oral cavity] so we’d like to put the least amount of pressure on that system as possible. Killing them indiscriminately selects some bacteria over others. There’s no perfect way to keep this balance if you introduce chemistry into the oral cavity, but we think that simply not allowing them to adhere to a surface would be less dramatic,’ said Russell Pesavento from the University of Illinois at Chicago, US.

The researchers have developed a polymer coating that allows the nanoparticles to be used at the pH of the oral cavity.

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