In modern dentistry, white composite materials are commonly used, which at first glance can hardly be distinguished from the tooth. (Agencies)
The majority of these composites are based on photoactive materials that harden when they are exposed to light.
But as the light does not penetrate very deeply into the material, the patients often have to endure a cumbersome procedure in which the fillings are applied and hardened in several steps.
The Vienna University of Technology, in collaboration with the dental company Ivoclar Vivadent, has now developed a new generation of photoactive materials based on the element Germanium.
Similar to natural tooth enamel, modern dental composites consist of a mixture of different material components.
In addition to inorganic fillers they can also contain photoactive organic resins which react to light of a particular wavelength and readily solidify.
Professor Robert Liska and his team at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) said the new Germanium-based molecule makes up 0.04 percent of the composite material, but it plays a crucial role.
The molecule is split into two parts by blue light, creating radicals, which initiate a chain reaction: molecular compounds, which are already present in the filling, assemble into polymers, and the material hardens.
Using this new compound, the hardening depth could be increased from 2 mm to 4 mm, which considerably reduces the duration of the medical procedure, researchers said.
In modern dentistry, white composite materials are commonly used, which at first glance can hardly be distinguished from the tooth.