Materials commonly used in dental prosthetics tend to worn out, just like natural teeth do. According to a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, German scientists have developed an interesting glass ceramic with nanocrystals.
What are nanocrystals?
A nanocrystal is a singlecrystalline nanomaterial with one or several dimensions equal or smaller than 1 micrometer. A nonoparticle is very small (between 100 and 1 nm) and behaves as a whole unit. Not all nanoparticles can be called nanocrystals; nanocrystals are single-domain particles or single crystals featuring the specified nanometer size.
According to scientists, the structure of this newly developed substance featuring fantastic strength appears to be better suited for use in dentistry compared to traditional materials (the usual denture ceramics). These materials (aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide and silicon oxide mainly) have been used before in other industries (filters used in the manufacturing process of diesel fuel, the manufacturing of solar panels, and, potentially, in optics and electronics); however, dentistry seems to be the new field of exploration.
In terms of aesthetics, nanocrystalline structures can also provide superior results, by being able to mimic the expected translucency of natural teeth. The result is achieved via complex chemical processes occurring at very high temperatures. When nanocrystals are not present, the material tends to become opaque as it hardens, because the crystallized material disperses the light; however, nanocrystals overcome this issue with a simple and ingenious trick: they do not disperse light the same way traditional ceramic does, as they are too small to do so.
Experiments and implementation of theory
So far, there has been no implementation of nanocrystalline structure materials in dentistry; however, the German chemists are highly optimistic on the matter of potential applications in dental biomedical fields. It seems that in a few years dental patients may be able to benefit from the use of this modern substance in all kinds of prosthetic dental works.