Beam of light could replace pliers in dental surgeries: QUT

Beam of light could replace pliers in dental surgeries: QUT

To spend your days up to your elbows in other people’s oral cavities is tough enough. But now, dentists and their anxious patients could see a transformation in dentistry, thanks to pioneering research by a Queensland University of Technology-led team, which aims to take away some of the pain using a new superglue and the power of light.

Australian Laureate Fellowship Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik and Dr James Blinco have been awarded a $364,503 grant from the Australian Research Council to develop pioneering new visible light-degradable dental materials in partnership with Liechtenstein-based company, Ivoclar Vivadent.

Instead of having to use pliers on a patient to remove old dental work, the dentist will be able to simply wave a beam of light over the area to create that separation, Professor Barner-Kowollik says. “Apart from making a visit to the dentist less painful, this would allow two materials to be strongly bonded, including dental crowns, braces and implants,” he said.
Dr Blinco added that the research team hopes to develop an adhesive product that can be used in human trials in about four years' time. “We’re developing a new glue which will bond either the braces, or the cap (crown) to your tooth which will be set with that blue light which is shone into your mouth,” he said.

“We’re hoping a stronger powered visible light which will then signal to the glue that it no longer has to hold to the tooth anymore - and then it can just be pulled off without any of that extra mechanical force. Because that is extra pain and anxiety to get that done.

“Anyone who has had braces removed will know it’s not a pleasant experience.” Dental adhesive company, Ivoclar Vivadent, will provide the team with access to model teeth so the adhesive can be tested.
“Ivoclar has model teeth systems which means we don’t stick it into a human now,” Dr Blinco said. “They have got conditions that model what happens without the mouth, and there will be trials before the product goes into a human mouth.”

Dr Blinco said the team’s ground-breaking work could have broader industrial applications beyond dentistry.

“We’re not just looking at dental applications,” he said. “There’s lots of different applications that have things you’d want to glue together at some stage, and then have pulled apart easily at another stage, using photochemistry or light as a trigger.”
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