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ARRA Investments in Biotechnology- and Nanotechnology-Based Dental Restorative Materials


Public Health Burden
Even today, virtually everyone in the U.S. is at risk for tooth decay, which remains the single most common chronic childhood disease-five times more common than asthma and accounting for nearly 30% of all healthcare expenditures in children. Dental amalgams and composites (the materials most commonly used to restore decayed teeth) have been shown to require regular replacement as frequently as every 5.7 years. Increasing the durability and length of service of dental restorative materials will reduce the total lifetime cost of each restoration as well as the risk and cost inherent in repeated dental treatments.  ARRA funds are supporting research toward a new generation of materials, including nanocomposites and smart self-healing materials with enhanced adhesive bonding to a tooth's surface, improved durability, better aesthetics, and maximum biocompatibility.

Basic Research
There are many approaches that can be taken to improve dental composite restorative materials.  These ARRA projects utilize several approaches in an effort to increase the service life of resin dental composites to serve the public need for improved oral health.
  • One grant will combine innovative, biologically-inspired polymer design and synthesis, fundamental studies of bonding, and an elegant approach to composite processing (freeze-casting), to lead to novel high strength composite materials with self-healing capacity.1
  • Another ARRA project will seek to improve the resin composite material itself.2
  • Others will focus on better understanding the interface between the tooth and the restorative material.3,4
  • An ARRA grant will investigate the potential of incorporating antibacterial components into the composite material to reduce the susceptibility to dental decay.5
  • Exploring the use of devices that will allow for conservative and selective removal of dental caries, and the existing composite restorations with minimal damage to sound tooth structure are currently be investigated.6
  • Two grants are supporting the development of nano-sized novel materials that, due to their small sizes and high reactivity, are expected to have a range of clinical applications, including tooth remineralization, tooth desensitization, and enhanced dental restorative properties.7,8



  1. 1RC1DE020702-01 -- Self-Healing Composites via Novel Biomolecular Design and Processing -- Messersmith, Phillip B -- (IL)
  2. 1RC1DE020480-01 -- Improved Resin Bonded Dental Restoratives Based on Nanogel-modified Adhesives -- Stansbury, Jeffrey W -- (CO)
  3. 3R01DE014392-08S1 -- Im/Miscible Adhesive/Dentin Interface: Structure/Mechanic -- Spencer, Paulette -- (KS)
  4. 3R00DE018212-03S1 -- Biomimetic Properties of Cementum and Its Interfaces -- Ho, Sunita P -- (CA)
  5. 1RC1DE020614-01 -- High-performance Biocompatible GIC System with Permanent Antibacterial Function -- Xie, Dong -- (IN)
  6. 1R01DE019631-01 -- Selective Ablation of Dental Caries and Composites -- Fried, Daniel -- (CA)
  7. 3R01DE016416-04S1 -- NANOSTRUCTURED BIOACTIVE MATERIALS -- Chow, Laurence C. -- (IL)
  8. 3R21DE018360-02S1 -- Dental Nanocomposite Materials Using Functional Polymer and HAP Nanocrystals -- Lee, Seung-wuk -- (CA)


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