Biocompatibility and cariogenicity of resin-based dental materials.
To restore carious or traumatized teeth, a dentist can choose between two direct (plastic) restorative materials, i.e. amalgam (silver-colored) or composite (tooth-colored). To restrict environmental mercury pollution, the WHO (World Health Organization) currently encourages a global phasingdown of the use of dental amalgam. Tooth tissue lost due to trauma or caries is nowadays preferentially replaced with composite. After a widespread clinical use of more than 20 years, dental composite seems to be an acceptable biological and functional substitute for amalgam. Yet, the biocompatibility of resin-based materials and the alleged higher prevalence of secondary caries with composites are important issues that necessitate improvement of the current restorative materials. As resin-based materials never polymerize to a full extent upon placement in the mouth, unpolymerized components may be released in the oral environment. Especially in scientific literature, several studies report that eluates (e.g. monomers, bisphenol A, etc.) may exhibit biotoxic effects (allergenicity, cytotoxicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity). Besides that, emanated monomers are thought to promote caries, which may explain the clinical susceptibility of composite restorations to secondary caries and their subsequent limited oral lifetime. With this translational research project, we intend to bridge the gap between the current literature and the clinical observations. This new more biologically oriented research line fills a last missing link in the expertises available in our KU Leuven-BIOMAT research group, which traditionally focused more on material sciences and clinical research of composite restorative materials. The biocompatibility and cariogenicity will be investigated multidisciplinarily by in-vitro (materialscience-based, toxicological and microbiological research) and in-vivo (cohort study) research. Pathways to improve current resin-based materials regarding their biocompatibility and cariogenicity will be explored.