Materials (Basel) 2018 Sep 17;11(9). Epub 2018 Sep 17.
Department of Advanced Oral Sciences and Therapeutics, University of Maryland Dental School, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
Polymeric tooth-colored restorations are increasingly popular in dentistry. However, restoration failures remain a major challenge, and more than 50% of all operative work was devoted to removing and replacing the failed restorations. This is a heavy burden, with the expense for restoring dental cavities in the U.S. exceeding $46 billion annually. In addition, the need is increasing dramatically as the population ages with increasing tooth retention in seniors. Traditional materials for cavity restorations are usually bioinert and replace the decayed tooth volumes. This article reviews cutting-edge research on the synthesis and evaluation of a new generation of bioactive dental polymers that not only restore the decayed tooth structures, but also have therapeutic functions. These materials include polymeric composites and bonding agents for tooth cavity restorations that inhibit saliva-based microcosm biofilms, bioactive resins for tooth root caries treatments, polymers that can suppress periodontal pathogens, and root canal sealers that can kill endodontic biofilms. These novel compositions substantially inhibit biofilm growth, greatly reduce acid production and polysaccharide synthesis of biofilms, and reduce biofilm colony-forming units by three to four orders of magnitude. This new class of bioactive and therapeutic polymeric materials is promising to inhibit tooth decay, suppress recurrent caries, control oral biofilms and acid production, protect the periodontium, and heal endodontic infections.