Nanotech

A woman showing her white teeth. / Photo by: Kjerstin_Michaela via Pixabay

 

Current whitening dental treatments mostly use hydrogen peroxide to remove teeth stains, but the chemical damages the enamel. So a team of researchers searched for alternatives and found that titanium dioxide can do the job without damaging the teeth.

Whitening toothpaste and noninvasive bleaching treatments are the most commonly used techniques to whiten teeth. In dental clinics, dentists often apply hydrogen peroxide on the teeth’s surface and expose them to blue light.

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic used to clean burns, cuts, and scrapes to prevent infection. It can also be used as a mouthwash to help remove mucus or relieve irritation caused by minor mouth problems. As a bleaching agent, the chemical steals the electrons left by colored foods and drinks, like coffee, tea, and red wine.

While it works, hydrogen peroxide breaks down the tooth enamel that can result in tooth sensitivity and cell death. This is due to the weak acidic property of the chemical. So, researchers who published their study in the American Chemical Society showed an effective and safer alternative.

They found that modified titanium dioxide nanoparticles with polydopamine, a polymer coating used in biomedical applications, can also whiten the teeth when exposed to blue light.

In an experiment, the researchers evenly coated the surface of a tooth with nano-TiO2@PDA and irradiated it with a blue light. After four hours of treatment, the whitening effect is similar to the result of treatment based on hydrogen peroxide. 

But the new formulation did not cause any damage to the enamel and only showed significantly less cell death, compared to the peroxide solution. Aside from that, the nano-TiO2@PDA displayed antibacterial properties on specific bacterial strains in the oral cavity.