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Researchers Discover New Tooth Cavity Protection

Clarkson University Center for Advanced Materials Processing Professor Igor Sokolov and graduate student Ravi M. Gaikwad have discovered a new method of protecting teeth from cavities by ultrafine polishing with silica nanoparticles.

The researchers adopted polishing technology used in the semiconductor industry (chemical mechanical planarization) to polish the surface of human teeth down to nanoscale roughness. Roughness left on the tooth after the polishing is just a few nanometers, which is one-billionth of a meter or about 100,000 times smaller than a grain of sand.

Sokolov and Gaikwad showed that teeth polished in this way become too “slippery” for the "bad" bacteria that is responsible for the destruction of dental enamel. As a result the bacteria can be removed fairly easily before they cause damage to the enamel.

Although silica particles have been used before for tooth polishing, polishing with nanosized particles has not been reported. The researchers hypothesized that such polishing may protect tooth surfaces against the damage caused by cariogenic bacteria, because the bacteria can be removed easily from such polished surfaces.

The Clarkson researchers' findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Dental Research, the dentistry journal with the top worldwide scientific impact index.

Sokolov is a professor of physics, professor of chemical and biomolecular science, and director of Clarkson's Nanoengineering and Biotechnology Laboratories Center (NABLAB). This is one of the first research projects performed in the recently established NABLAB.

Gaikwad is a graduate student in physics.


Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. The 2007 Faculty Scholarly Productivity (FSP) Index ranks Clarkson seventh in the nation among small research universities. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues.

Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Michael P. Griffin | Newswise Science News
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