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A less destructive method to whiten teeth developed in China

Chinese researchers have made a promising discovery for a gentler tooth whitening procedure. (Picture Dr.Niranjan Prabhakar)

Mon. 20 August 2018


NANCHANG, China: Social media adverts for whitening products show celebrities flaunting their pearly whites, putting pressure on consumers to conform to the ideal of white teeth. Patients can opt for over-the-counter or professional tooth whitening treatments, but both can harm the teeth. To combat this problem, Chinese researchers have now developed a new, less destructive method.

As is commonly known, teeth can become discoloured with the consumption of staining foods and drinks. As a result, many people turn to non-invasive whitening treatments. Currently, the most common bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide, but high concentrations can break down the enamel, causing sensitivity or even cell death.

Researchers and senior authors of a recent study Xiaolei Wang and Lan Liao, along with their colleagues at Nanchang University, investigated whether a different compound activated with blue light could act as a safer, yet still effective, alternative. The team modified titanium dioxide nanoparticles with polydopamine (nano-TiO2@PDA) so that they could be activated with blue light. In a proof-of-concept experiment, the particles were evenly coated on the surface of a tooth and irradiated with blue light.

After 4 hours of treatment, the whitening level was similar to that obtained with hydrogen peroxide-based agents. The researchers did not find significant enamel damage on the surface of the tooth, and the treatment was significantly less cytotoxic than hydrogen peroxide. In addition, the nano-TiO2@PDA therapy showed antibacterial activity against certain bacteria.

The study, titled “Blue-light -activated nano-TiO2@PDA for highly effective and nondestructive tooth whitening”, was published in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering on 19 June 2018.