Wonder material graphene could be used to make dental fillings that don’t corrode and last forever, scientists have proposed.
According to an international team of researchers, fillings made of graphene oxide would be much more durable than those based on metals or ceramic materials.
While metallic fillings made of copper, mercury, silver or tin tend to corrode, ceramic composite fillings are not very strong. Graphene offers both: exceptional strength up to 200 times higher than steel and resistance against corrosion.
Hailed for a wide variety of exquisite properties, graphene could thus be an excellent material for fixing teeth. According to the researchers, our teeth are under extreme strain. During an average meal, a person chews up to 800 times. Over the period of a year, this number rises to a million. No surprise then that fillings tend to fall out or require frequent repairs.
"The idea of the project was to add graphene into dental materials, in order to increase their resistance to corrosion as well as to improve their mechanical properties," said Stela Pruneanu, from the National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies in Romania. "There is contradictory information regarding the cytotoxicity of graphene, so we first wanted to determine how toxic it is for teeth."
The researchers tested three types of graphene oxides. While nitrogen-doped graphene oxide and thermally reduced graphene oxide proved to be highly toxic to human cells, graphene oxide fared much better.
"The results were very interesting and proved that graphene is appropriate for use in dental materials," said Gabriela Adriana Filip, Associate Professor at Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca in Romania who participated in the research. "We believe that this research will bring new knowledge about the cytotoxic properties of graphene-based materials and their potential applications in dental materials."