Grape seed extract has long been promoted for its powerful health benefits, but now dental researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry have found that dentists may soon be singing its praises because of its ability to heal damaged dentin. Researchers at the university have found that special plant compounds found in grape seed extract promote the growth of collagen in dentin. This growth of collagen repairs and strengthens areas of the tooth that have become damaged as a result of tooth decay and cavities.
These compounds are flavonoids known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs. Flavonoids are said to have immune-boosting properties, and many individuals believe them to have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
Dentin is the tissue of the tooth that lies directly under the hard, outer enamel. This ability to repair dentin bolsters its strength, and provides strength to the rest of the tooth in preparation for filling. When a tooth is strong, composite resin fillings to bond to the tooth more readily.
Composite resin fillings, which are made of plastic mixed with fine glass particles, last on average only about 7.8 years. This is because these fillings weaken and break down over time primarily because of their inability to bond tightly to the teeth.The inability to bond completely with the tooth creates an uneven and an unnatural surface on the tooth. Pressure is exerted on the filling as the patient chews and bites down, and because the area is unnatural to the intended function of the tooth, the filling cracks and breaks down over time.
When fillings crack and break down over time, or are unable to tightly seal with the tooth, bacteria can leak underneath the restoration. This leaves patients at risk for further decay and future restorations. If decay or damage is severe, patients may also face tooth loss.
"When fillings and other dental restorations do not have a good seal, bacteria can work its way below the restoration and cause even more decay," Dr. Steven P. Rogers, D.M.D., P.C., said.
Rogers is a Grants Pass, Oregon, dentist. He practices biomimetic dentistry, a specialization of dentistry that uses lifelike materials to preserve as much of the tooth possible when repairing tooth decay. The use of lifelike materials allows the tooth to function naturally, and biomimetic restorations do not have the same issues with wear and tear as composite fillings or metal amalgam fillings. Biomimetic restorations have lasted in patients for over a decade or longer. This grape seed extract research study is exciting for dentists like Rogers.
"The ability to repair dentin is exciting, because the teeth are one of the very few parts of body that lack the ability to repair themselves," Rogers said.
Repairing the teeth is also exciting to Rogers, because as a biomimetic dentist, his goal is to keep as much of the tooth intact as possible when treating and repairing tooth decay. If Rogers needs to remove tooth decay, he uses air abrasion techniques to gently remove only areas affected by decay, leaving healthy tissue surrounding it in place. This is in contrast to traditional restoration practices that use a drill to remove healthy tissue around the decay to make a hole large enough to allow dentists to place a filling.
After decay is removed, Rogers restores the tooth using lifelike materials, which are layered on the tooth, instead of plugged in like composite and metal amalgam fillings. This allows him to recreate the natural structure of the tooth and to preserve its function and minimize wear.
Rogers hopes that the project sparks continued research on how dentin and other parts of the teeth can be restored naturally.
Source. Science Daily. University of Illinois at Chicago. "Grape seed extract could extend life of resin fillings." 9 May 2017.
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