Good news for the 80 percent of us who have resin tooth fillings: a new extract can delay our dentist trips by years. Pine tree bark extract is shown to alter the chemical structure of our teeth, strengthening them, and allowing our fillings to bind to them better. This is achieved due to the compounds in the extract that strengthen dentine, the tissue layer beneath the enamel of the teeth.
Dr. Guido Pauli of the University of Illinois at Chicago says the “weak link in the chain of bonding is the interface between the resin and the dentine. We have clear evidence that our intervention materials change this interface much to the better.” Dr. Pauli is referring to his recent tests that suggest the tree bark extracts can strengthen dentine by as much as ten times. Considering the current lifespan of a resin tooth filling, these new findings suggest a ten-year extension.
Dr. Pauli, and his colleague Dr. Ana Bedran Russo, reached this conclusion after testing the extracts of the Chinese red pine, otherwise known as pinus massoniana. The extract was applied to human molars before examining how they deformed when introduced to various heavy forces. Dr. Pauli and Dr. Russo saw that pine bark extracts strengthened the dentine in teeth, which remained coated on the molars even a year after application. The authors also found that the dentine structure changed after being exposed to pine bark extract. Dentine was more compatible with the resin fillings, binding to them more tightly. “Extract-treated dentine show superior binding to resin fillings,” says Dr. Pauli.
Dr. Pauli is currently working on producing a refined extract that dentists can use on teeth after drilling, to strengthen bonding to the filling. However, he quickly adds, “we are not envisioning a pure compound; the chemistry is too complex.”
The results of this study are published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry.
The implication of these findings
Old dental practices saw people filling cracks in their teeth with metal. This led to the laughable but entirely factual phrase of “metal mouth.” Advancing technologies developed resin-type fillings, which were able to mimic the teeth’s natural color, and were generally safer than their metal counterparts. Still, resin tends to deteriorate after a few years. Replacing these dental fillings would need more drilling, costing healthy dental tissue.
Dentine is the calcified extracellular tissue of the teeth located just below the hard external enamel. “Resins have to bind to the dentin, and that interface is the weak point. This is why the restorations don’t last,” warns Dr. Pauli. By developing this natural preventive measure, it is hoped that people will be able to reduce the number of trips they make to the dentist. Furthermore, the pine bark extract would strengthen tooth tissue, promoting overall health.
Head of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter supplements this by saying that “fillings are susceptible to wear-and-tear and can occasionally be in need of repair and replacement. Having fillings which have a longer lifespan could be more comforting to the patient, as the procedure will have to be carried out less often.”
Dannel Ferrira of the University of Mississippi says that Dr. Pauli’s research is “a totally unexpected and novel application. It is really an important breakthrough.” (RELATED: Follow more news on holistic dentistry at HolisticDentistry.news.)
Some other facts to consider
It is estimated that 80 percent of the American population has dental fillings. These are standard restorative dentistry treatments meant to repair minimal tooth decay or fractures. These dental fillings can even improve bite.
Enamel loss is the main reason for tooth decay, leading to an increased sensitivity. This can cause relatively painful sensations. Tooth sensitivity caused by enamel loss is typically treated with a dental filling.