Nobody enjoys going to the dentist. It is a time consuming and sometimes painful experience that most people dread. Sadly, there is no avoiding it, as dental health is an important part of life and one that needs to be maintained if you enjoy having teeth. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of adults between the ages of 20 to 64 have cavities—a hole that forms in the tooth when acid produced by bacteria erodes the enamel. Unfortunately, no cavity filling lasts forever, making visits to the dentist a necessary part of life. However, new research into a natural compound found in grape seeds could possibly strengthen the tissue beneath tooth enamel, increasing the life span of fillings.
A traditional tooth filling can be made up of many things, all with differing lengths of durability. The most common of which is amalgam—a combination of mercury, silver, and other materials. Amalgam is easy to use and not too expensive, making it ideal for most people needing to fill a cavity. These can last between 10 to 15 years. Another commonly used material is called composite resin. This material is more aesthetically pleasing, as it can be colored to match the patient’s teeth, but it typically lasts only five to seven years.
This is where grape seed extracts step in. Research by Ana Bedran-Russo, an associate professor of restorative dentistry, describes how a composite resin can be made from this natural material that not only lasts longer, but is also much stronger. Grape-seed extract composite resin can also increase the strength of dentin—the tissue found beneath tooth enamel that resins have to bind to. Dentin is considered an area of weakness, causing fillings to breakdown.
“When fillings fail, decay forms around it and the seal is lost. We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin. The interface can be changed through the use of new natural materials,” said Bedran-Russo.
This has prompted the development of a new type of resin that doesn’t lead to degradation of the adhesive surface of dentin. It was found that combinations of plant-based oligomeric proanthocyanidins—flavonoids found in most foods and vegetables, including extracts from grape seed—and interlocking resins bond to dentin more securely, possibly preventing tooth decay.
“The stability of the interface is key for the durability of such adhesive joints, and hence, the life of the restoration and minimizing tooth loss,” said Bedran-Russo.