Discovery could lead to stronger dental fillings … and less time at the dentist

Researchers used the CLS to discover how to create stronger dental fillings. This is great news for the 96% of Canadians who will have to contend with at least one cavity during their adult lives.

By Erin Matthews

Prof. Owen Addison (right) with co-author Dr. Dan Romanyk,at the CLS.

For the first time, an international group of researchers led by Professor Owen Addison from King’s College London has been able to close a gap in the knowledge of photo-activated resin-based composites, commonly used in medical and dental applications.

In a recent paper published in Nature Communications, the team from Alberta, the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States described how they saw inside the resin matrix and gained insight into how filler particles interact with it during setting and influence the dental filling materials.

Prof. Owen Addison (right) with co-author Dr. Dan Romanyk, from the University of Alberta, at the MidIR beamline at the CLS, which they used for their experiment.

“We’ve been working for a number of years using synchrotron-based techniques primarily to try and understand the evolving structure of the polymer network of the resin matrix that makes up these materials,” Addison said.

As the Chair of Oral Rehabilitation of King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences and Adjunct Professor of Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Addison has been interested in understanding the structure of these materials in order to improve their performance.

The team used a synchrotron technique that allows them to look at different resin chemistries and filler compositions. This will help researchers optimize the material, make it more resistant to wear and mechanical deterioration and lead to less time spent in the dental office.

The technique, wide field mid-infrared imaging, was used at the Mid-IR beamline at the CLS and allowed the team to gain a greater understanding of what was happening within the matrix of the resin composite, which is used for dental work. The filler particles are introduced to the material for better mechanical performance, but there has been a significant gap in the knowledge about the way these fillers affect the polymerization, or hardening, of the material.

For the first time, the team was able to demonstrate that the fillers themselves modify the local reaction of the setting material. Addison believes that this information has the potential to improve these resin composites, which would not only be an asset to dentistry but to other medical and industrial applications of photo-polymer composites.

He also stressed the importance of infrared beamlines and their value to research.

“Infrared beamlines at synchrotrons are incredibly important resources to have. In particular, our experiences at the CLS have been of a beamline that is looking to adopt novel approaches to keep itself as a leader within the community and try to attract the most interesting science. So, I think the Mid-IR beamline is really important to Canadian science and world science,” Addison said.

Sirovica, Slobodan, Johanne H. Solheim, Maximilian WA Skoda, Carol J. Hirschmugl, Eric C. Mattson, Ebrahim Aboualizadeh, Yilan Guo et al. "Origin of micro-scale heterogeneity in polymerisation of photo-activated resin composites." Nature Communications 11, no. 1 (2020): 1-10. 


For more information, contact:

Victoria Schramm
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Light Source