Canadian and Chinese scientists have developed a new and improved dental filling material that's comprised of the human body's natural ingredients.
Julian X.X. Zhu and colleagues said that the new material is stronger, long lasting and has the potential for reducing painful filling cracks and emergency visits to the dentist.
They pointed out that dentists are increasingly using white fillings made from plastic, rather than 'silver' dental fillings.
Those traditional fillings contain mercury, which has raised health concerns among some consumers and environmental issues in its production.
However, many plastic fillings contain controversial ingredients (such as BisGMA) linked to premature cracking of fillings and slowly release bisphenol A, a substance considered as potentially toxic to humans and to the environment.
Now, scientists have developed a dental composite that does not contain these ingredients.
Instead, it uses 'bile acids,' natural substances produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that help digest fats.
The researchers showed in laboratory studies that the bile acid-derived resins form a hard, durable plastic that resists cracking better than existing composites.
Their study appears in the current edition of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, a monthly journal.