A Reason To Smile: Teeth-Whitening Nanoparticles

Researchers in China have developed a method to whiten teeth without causing damage to the enamel.

AsianScientist (Aug. 2, 2018) – Scientists at Nanchang University in China have developed a nanoparticle that can be used for teeth whitening. Their findings are published in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Teeth can become discolored on their outer surfaces when people consume colored foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea or red wine. To brighten their smile, consumers can opt for over-the-counter teeth-whitening treatments or a trip to the dentist to have their teeth bleached professionally. However, both types of treatments can harm teeth.

Currently, the most common bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide, which steals electrons from the pigment molecules that cause teeth discoloration. This process can be sped up by exposing teeth to blue light. But high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can break down a tooth’s enamel, causing sensitivity or cell death. Hence, a research group led by Professor Wang Xiaolei at Nanchang University, wanted to explore whether a different blue-light-activated compound could be a safer, but still effective, alternative for teeth whitening.

The team modified titanium dioxide nanoparticles with polydopamine (nano-TiO2@PDA) so that the nanoparticles could be activated with blue light. In a proof-of-concept experiment, the nano-TiO2@PDA particles were evenly coated on the surface of a tooth and irradiated with blue light.

After four hours of treatment, the researchers reported that the whitening effect of their nanoparticles was similar to that obtained with hydrogen peroxide-based agents. They also noted that no significant enamel damage was found on the surface of the tooth, and the treatment was significantly less damaging to cells than hydrogen peroxide. In addition, the nano-TiO2@PDA therapy showed antibacterial activity, offering protection against infection.

The article can be found at: Zhang et al. (2017) Blue-Light -Activated Nano-TiO2@PDA for Highly Effective and Nondestructive Tooth Whitening.


Source: American Chemical Society; Photo: Pexels.
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