The word “nanoparticle” may conjure an image of scientists in a lab with tiny, sentient machines and heavy, high-tech equipment. Though the reality surrounding nanoparticles is a little less exciting, nanoparticles are having a major impact on the world of medicine, and may yet have a major impact on dentistry, specifically.

Young scientist looks though a microscope

What Do Nanoparticles Actually Do?

The word is easy to work out literally – nano, small; particle, tiny pieces of matter – but how are nanoparticles used? And how might they be applied to dentistry? Nanotechnology is the branch of science concerned with how nanoparticles can repair problems at a cellular level. They can act as a drug delivery system to cancer cells and be a contrast agent in imaging, for example. Problems in the mouth are often very tiny, and what better to solve tiny problems than tiny particles? Plus, though we don’t like to think about it, the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Soon after leaving Drs. Ken and Marnie Collins’ office, your brand new dental implant is teeming with bacteria both healthy and harmful. However, nanoparticles can help your dental implant last longer by applying nanoparticles with antibacterial properties directly to the dental implant adhesive. Any harmful bacteria that might lead to a breakdown and subsequent failure of your dental implant can be addressed at the source by nanoparticles.

An article published in the January edition of Drug Discovery Today suggests nanoparticles could be used in treating dental caries, preventing oral infections, bad breath, periodontal disease and more. These applications are groundbreaking and exciting, and have the potential to completely transform the world of dentistry.

Nanoparticles in Other Specialties

There are various types of nanoparticles, like iron oxide, silver, gold and many more, and each type has a different application and use. The Drug Discovery Today article suggests calcium fluoride nanoparticles can prevent caries, hydroxyapatite nanoparticles reduced sensitivity after tooth whitening and PLGA nanoparticles were found to attack the bacteria responsible for root canal infections.

All things considered, nanoparticles seem like a miracle treatment. And nanoparticles may one day be widely used in dentistry, but they’re already hard at work in other medical fields. Here are just a few examples of the work nanoparticles are doing outside of dentistry:

  • Detecting and treating cancer cells
  • Repairing damaged heart tissue
  • Sterilizing and cleaning medical supplies
  • Treating antibiotic resistant infections

So What’s the Catch?

We all know the expression “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” but does this apply to nanoparticles? More studies need to happen before all risk is written off for nanoparticles, but there are some concerns; most of them minor.

Many of the concerns raised by scientists are probably the first ones that came to your mind after learning about nanoparticles, too: how toxic is this thing being put into my body? Well, scientists are still trying to figure that out. However, if nanoparticles one day make their way into the dental office, patients can be certain their trusted dentists will ensure the particles are safe and effective.

Ready for the Future?

Though we can’t offer the incredible benefits researchers are seeing from nanoparticles in the office yet, cosmetic dentists Drs. Ken and Marnie Collins would be happy to set you up for a healthy and bright future using all the latest in dental technology and expertise.

To schedule an appointment at Collins Dentistry and Aesthetics in Spokane Valley, please call (509) 927-2273 today.