UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Aerogels for dentistry

New technology developed at UCL for dental bone grafting and other biomedical applications uses bioactive aerogels.

Dental surgery

23 July 2019

Bioactive aerogels contain calcium and phosphate and, once inside the body, form the mineral phase of bone and teeth. 

The technology will offer dental surgeons more options in material properties when performing surgery and could allow for more challenging and significantly improved surgical techniques in dentistry. This has the potential to offer better surgical outcomes for patients, with fewer surgical interventions, improved healing, and greater oral function. 

In 2018, the team obtained funding for a study to gain CE mark approval to allow sales in Europe and, crucially, also obtained agreement from a multinational commercial partner to co-develop the technology for regulatory approval. 

The technology has also been developed for enamel remineralisation as an additive to toothpaste, helping to treat dentine hypersensitivity which causes painful toothache from certain foods and cold drinks. Bioactive aerogels show much faster action than current competing technologies and are cheaper to produce. The team have also signed a pre-license agreement with a large commercial partner to allow them to evaluate this technology. A potential full license would generate significant revenue for the university, offer considerable improvement in efficacy for users of the toothpaste, and save millions of pounds per year in manufacturing costs, providing further competitive advantage thanks to the UCL technology. 

This project is based on technology developed within UCL Chemical Engineering, and as part of the EPSRC “Frontier Engineering” Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE), led by Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens and in collaboration with Dr Niall Kent. 

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