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Design and Development of Novel Dental Restorative Resin Systems

Dental Materials and Biomaterials Program
Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch


The intent of this initiative is to support research on the design and development of novel dental restorative resin systems that demonstrate superiority in material properties and endurance in the oral environment over the currently used bisphenol A glycidyl methacrylate/triethylene glycol dimethacrylate (Bis-GMA/TEGDMA)-based systems.  The goal is not to incrementally improve the currently utilized dental restorative systems, but to develop a novel, new restorative resin that is not susceptible to esterase degradation.  This novel restorative resin should meet the following criteria:  biocompatibility; aesthetics; low shrinkage; mechanical superiority to existing commercial products; resistance to degradation in the oral cavity; satisfactory handling properties; limited leaching of resin components; and be significantly longer-lived than current resin restorative dental materials.  With the development of a new resin, the corresponding coupling agents, fillers, and dentin/enamel bonding agents may also need to be redesigned. It is expected that the clinical survival of these novel restorative systems will exceed current commercial materials by at least a factor of two.

Multidisciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged from research areas traditionally not focused on dental restorative resins.  Investigators involved with polymer development such as polymer chemists, organic chemists, computational evaluation of polymer systems, materials scientists, chemical engineers, bioengineers, clinicians, and microbiologists, as well as those engaged in bone cement fabrication, in vitro, in vivo, animal, and clinical studies are encouraged to collaborate.  The evaluation of the novel resin system must include a physiologically relevant oral microbial environment. Other properties of the novel resin system such as the ability to self-heal, be biomimetic, and be directly integrated with the host dentin/enamel interface without an adhesive would add significant value to the design.



The increasing use of dental composites and the associated dentin/enamel bonding agents is approaching approximately 65-70% of dental restorations placed in the United States. These restorations are currently a combination of three main components: Bis-GMA/TEGDMA resin matrix (20-25% by weight), glass or ceramic filler particles (75-80% by weight), and a silane coupling agent to bind the resin matrix to the filler particles. The dental restoration is attached to the surrounding tooth structure using a dentin/enamel adhesive. The composite resin allows for convenient manipulation and handling, properties valued by dentists, and the filler provides strength and aesthetics. This dental composite is placed within a tooth as a paste mixture of its components and polymerized using a 400-480 nm curing light. Unfortunately, the lifespan of these materials is limited to six to seven years. Although improvements have been made in the composite resin and filler properties, the resin chemistry is fundamentally unchanged since its introduction in the early 1960’s. Current research on developing new improved materials has been concentrated on incremental modifications of the Bis-GMA/TEGDMA resin to reduce polymerization shrinkage and residual polymerization stress. The current resin system has been shown to alter the metabolism of caries-related bacteria and biofilm, such that secondary caries juxtaposing dental restorations may have a different microbial environment than initial caries on enamel-dentin surfaces. For example, leached unreacted monomers and other degradation products from dental restorations and sealants have been associated with a muted immune response, possibly also eliciting changes in bacterial responses.  In addition, health concerns continue with the perceived release of bisphenol A used in the manufacturing of products including dental restorations and sealants.

From the 2005-06 Survey of Dental Services Rendered, an estimated 122.7 million dental restorations were placed in 2006 and the current trends in clinical dentistry indicate that this number is likely to increase. The advance of a new, longer-lasting composite resin and corresponding filler and adhesive components is an urgent dental and oral health need which could  have a significant positive impact on the oral health of the US population.



The NIDCR Strategic Plan of 2009-2013 lists dental caries as the single most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States. In addition, recurrent caries and root caries are prevalent among adults and the elderly, and initial caries are disproportionately found at higher rates in disadvantaged groups of the population.  These lesions require the placement of dental restorations.  The objective of this initiative is consistent with the NIDCR Strategic Plan 2009-2013, Objective I-5 “Facilitate reconstruction and regeneration of diseased or damaged oral and craniofacial tissues and organs through biological, bioengineering, and biomaterials research approaches”.  Interdisciplinary research among chemists, chemical engineers, bioengineers, materials scientists, microbiologists, cariologists, and clinicians together with investigators from new disciplines such as computational chemists and interface scientists will be necessary to design and develop a novel dental restorative resin system.

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This page last updated: March 12, 2014