The opportunity to witness the beginning of a pioneering development in technology is rarely encountered.1 Nanodentistry, the application of nanotechnology to dentistry, will have a monumental impact on our profession.
Nanotechnology is the branch of technology that deals with infinitesimally small objects. To better understand what that means, there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A human hair is 100,000 nanometers in diameter. It’s about the smallest object that can be seen through a light microscope.
Some companies are already using nanoparticles in dental products. Nanofill composites have been available in dentistry for more than a decade. Patent holders for the use of nanotechnology with composites include Kerr and the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
Nobio from Israel is currently seeking FDA clearance for its antibacterial nanocomposite and bonding material. The company’s nanoparticle will be integrated into composites, bonding agents, and potentially other materials to eliminate secondary caries by physically destroying bacteria that contact the surface of the tooth-restoration interface. This technology is noneluting, which means the antimicrobial agent should not lose its effect over time.
Under the umbrella of dental nanorobotics, imagine a once-a-day application of a mouthwash or toothpaste that delivers nanorobotic structures. These mechanical dentifrobots that are nearly invisible will actually be mobile. They move 1–10 microns per second, continually cleaning organic residues from supra- and subgingival surfaces while preventing the accumulation of calculus. These dentifrobots will be able to recognize and destroy pathogenic bacteria in plaque. Their activity can be stopped harmlessly in case they are swallowed.3,4
2. Kong LX, Peng Z, Li SD, Bartold PM. Nanotechnology and its role in the management of periodontal diseases. Periodontal 2000. 2006;40:184-196. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0757.2005.00143.x.
LOU SHUMAN, DMD, CAGS, is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, the chairperson of the technology advisory board at WEO Media, a member of the editorial advisory board of Dental Economics, and founder and creator of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards.