UCL Therapeutic Innovation Networks


Optimisation and commercial manufacture of tooth-coloured composite dental-fillings

A medical device case study: UCL researchers and dental materials manufacturer collaborate to speed up the development of a new dental filling material for children.

girl at dentist

13 January 2020

The phase out of mercury in dental fillings to reduce mercury exposure and pollution began in 2018, with the ban of silver coloured amalgam in children under 15. The current filling alternative exists as an invasive process involving drilling and discomfort for children under local anaesthetic, in order to place a non-durable white filling.

With current levels of sugar consumption in the UK, 16% and 23% of 3 and 5 year old children respectively have dental caries (tooth infection) which require fillings. This is even higher in countries where high sugar consumption is combined with poor dental hygiene education and resources, such as Thailand, which sees 75-80%. This, paired with the fear of injections and drilling, means that the challenge of how to fill children’s teeth has become increasingly difficult and there is a huge unmet medical need to develop an alternative dental composite.

Professors Anne Young and Paul Ashley, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, are leading a project doing exactly that, and have developed a self-bonding, easy to place composite material that can restore the tooth to its original appearance, shape and function in just 2 minutes.

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