The sticky work of a materials scientist at the University of California Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute could mean fewer visits to the dentist for the rest of us. Inspired by the ability of mussels to stick to just about any surface, UCSB’s Kollbe Ahn has developed a new dental composite with an extra layer of durability, potentially resulting in longer lasting fillings, crowns and implants, according to an article from Futurity.
According to the article, one of the reasons that dental restorations crack or fall out is the failure of the bond with the surrounding tooth. Researchers looked to the mussel, known to adhere to irregular surfaces while riding out pounding waves, blazing sun and other punishment dished out by the ocean, as the model for a more durable dental restoration material. Mussels possess unique chemicals called catechols that promote adhesion to wet surfaces. According to Futurity, Ahn’s team demonstrated that a catecholic coupling agent could deliver 10 times greater adhesion and a 50% increase in toughness compared to current dental restorative resin composites, a discovery that could lead to more durable dental fillings. A commercial product reportedly may be available within a few years.
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