Are Diamonds a Tooth’s Best Friend?

Knoxville Dentist James Erpenbach DDSFrom Gold “grills” to 24-karat gold plated dental retainers — it’s clear some people like a little bling in their mouths.

But would you ever consider diamonds in your root canal?

A report from the American Chemistry Social journal Nano shows that nanodiamonds — which are literally microscopic diamond chips — have the potential to improve root canals, making them stronger and protecting them against infection.

Normally during root canals, a dentist will clear out damaged or infected pulp from deep inside a tooth and then fill that space with a rubber compound called gutta-percha.  If the patient’s tooth gets infected, or the root canal fails, another procedure is required. In order to avoid this, scientists have been experimenting with other types of filler material.

Enter nanodiamonds.

At UCLA, a team of researchers combined nanodiamonds —  so tiny that millions could fit on the head of the pin —gutta-percha and the amoxicillin antibiotic to form a new kind of filler compound.

The diamonds, the researchers said, were useful because of their “versatile faceted surface chemistry, biocompatibility, and their role in improving mechanical properties.”

What did they discover?

The nanodiamond compound is stronger than plain gutta-percha, and it has the added advantage of being able to kill bacteria.

The nanodiamond root canal filler has not been tested on humans yet — so the jury’s still out on whether the term “diamonds are forever” can be applied to teeth.

Stay tuned.