When dentists discover cavities in their patients, they are often filled with a tooth-colored material that looks just like a person’s own teeth.
However, tooth-colored fillings usually require replacement every five to seven years, often because tooth decay has formed under the filling. A researcher at the OU College of Dentistry in Oklahoma City is investigating which components of filling materials are most susceptible to decay and which enzymes in a person’s saliva cause the most plaque.
Sharukh S. Khajotia, B.D.S., Ph.D., associate dean for research at the OU College of Dentistry, recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to further his investigations into decay and tooth-colored fillings. Although filling materials have improved considerably since the 1960s, it is estimated that in the United States alone, more than $5 billion is spent each year on restoring and replacing fillings, he said.
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