• June 23, 2017
Dr. Ana Bedran-Russo

A natural compound found in grape seed extract could be used to strengthen dentin and increase the life of resin fillings, according to new research at the College.

While amalgam fillings can last ten to 15 years plus, the more aesthetically pleasing composite fillings typically last only five to seven years.

In research published in the Journal of Dental Research, Dr. Ana Bedran-Russo, Associate Professor, Restorative Dentistry, describes how grape seed extract can make composite-resin fillings stronger, allowing them to last longer. The extract, Dr. Bedran-Russo said, can increase the strength of the dentin, which comprises the majority of the calcified extracellular tissue of teeth, forming the layer just beneath the hard external enamel.

Dentin is mostly made of collagen, the main structural protein in skin and other connective tissues. Resins have to bind to the dentin, but the area between the two, or the interface, is a weak point, causing restorations to break down, Dr. Bedran-Russo said.

When a filling fails, "decay forms around it and the seal is lost," she said. "We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin. The interface can be changed through the use of new natural materials."

More than 90% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have cavities, according to a federal report.

Secondary caries and margin breakdown are the most frequent causes of failed adhesive restoration, Dr. Bedran-Russo said. Despite numerous advances in dental restorative materials, degradation of the adhesive interface still occurs. 

Dr. Bedran-Russo has discovered that damaged collagen can repair itself with a combination of plant-based oligomeric proanthocyanidins - flavonoids found in most foods and vegetables - and extracts from grape seeds. Interlocking the resin and collagen-rich dentin provides better adhesion and does not rely on moisture.

"The stability of the interface is key for the durability of such adhesive joints, and hence, the life of the restoration and minimizing tooth loss," Dr. Bedran-Russo said.

One of the possible benefits of using grape seed extract is that it prevents tooth decay, she said. She and Dr. Guido Pauli, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, recently collaborated on another study that showed extract from the root bark of Chinese red pine trees has similar properties to the grape seed extract.

Co-authors on the Journal of Dental Research study are Ariene Leme-Kraus, Berdan Aydin, Cristina Vidal, Rasika Phansalkar, Joo-won Nam, James McAlpine, Guido Pauli, and Shao-nong Cheng, all of UIC. The research was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (grant number DE021040), one of the National Institutes of Health.

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