• May 9, 2017
Grape Seed Extract Could Extend Life of Teeth

A natural compound found in grape seed extract could be used to strengthen dentin — the tissue beneath a tooth’s enamel — and increase the life of resin fillings, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

Many people are interested in grape seed extract because it contains antioxidants, the substances that protect cells from damage and may help prevent many diseases. There is also evidence that grape seed extract offers a number of other health benefits

How could grape seed extract help our teeth?

In research published in the Journal of Dental Research, Ana Bedran-Russo, associate professor of restorative dentistry, describes how grape seed extract can make composite-resin fillings stronger, allowing them to last longer. The extract, 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.

No filling lasts forever, whether it’s composite-resin or amalgam. But dentists find amalgam — a combination of mercury, silver, tin or other materials — easier to use and less costly. Plus, it can last 10 to 15 years or more. Composite-resin fillings are more aesthetically pleasing because the mixture of plastic and fine glass particles can be colored to match a patient’s teeth. However, the fillings typically last only five to seven years.

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 breakdown, Bedran-Russo said.

Most Americans have had tooth decay (cavities) at least once.

One of the possible benefits of using grape seed extract is that it prevents tooth decay. “When fillings fail, decay forms around it and the seal is lost. We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin,” she said. “The interface can be changed through the use of new natural materials.”

mini-infographic.jpgAbout 9 out of 10 (91%)  adults in the US (20 to 64 yrs old) have had to deal with tooth decay, or cavities, according to a NIDCR report. And 1 in 4 (26%) of these cases go un-treated on average, with the rate of un-treated tooth decay being even worse in under-served populations. A cavity is a hole that forms in the tooth when acid produced by bacteria erodes the minerals faster than the tooth can repair itself. The dentist removes the decay, or caries, with a drill and seals the hole with a filling.


Self-repairing tooth dentin

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

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,” Bedran-Russo said.

There may be promise for other plant-derived compounds to solve tooth decay as well. She and 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, Pauli and Shao-nong Chen, 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.


Researcher Spotlight

Bedran-Russo-lab-8_0.jpgAna Bedran-Russo, Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry, uses biological principles to enhance the properties of the tooth, working to halt dental decay and create new ways to restore lost tooth structure with materials similar to the tooth itself. More natural material reduces the likelihood that the tooth will need to be repaired again.

Her discoveries, a significant advancement in the field of restorative dentistry, have tremendous implications for overall health. Rather than removing diseased tooth structure and replacing it with materials dissimilar to natural teeth, patients will have treatment options that help them remain free of dental decay.

Research Focus: 
Regenerative Science, Caries Research, Biomaterials, Bio-engineering, Dental Implants

Researcher Profile

Laboratory of Applied Dental Biomaterials and Interfaces at UIC College of Dentistry