Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Into the light for tooth hardening

Over the years there has been significant changes to dental practices that have improved overall techniques considerably. From denture design to tooth care methods. Another significant advance has been made in the area of polymer filling and their hardening.
Into the light for tooth hardening
Dental fillings used to be silver based metals. With the advent of composite materials however, more aesthetically pleasing fillings were used. Polymer fillings, a composite material of plastic and silicon dioxide (glass) proved highly successful when hardened by light. The light used in these cases was generally a quartz-halogen based bulb source and whilst they were able to harden the polymer, they did so at a very inefficient cost.

A new development, based on a light emitting diode (LED) has been found to be far more efficient in its power usage, and because it no longer requires bulky designs and power chords, it has been found to be far more versatile.

Standard quartz-halogen bulbs work primarily through either infrared or ultra-violet filters, for the light they generate of themselves, is not capable of hardening polymer substrates. Using the filters however, generates the light emission into an appropriate wavelength that will harden the polymer. The drawback is that the power efficiency is not very effective through these filters, roughly using 75 watts of electric power to generate 0.5 watts of blue light.

The light diode apparatus requires no filters at all, as the light it inherently generates is of the exact required wavelength and thus hardens the polymer by itself. The power generated is less that 1 watt and the implement requires no power chord, thus allowing the dentist far great ease of use.

The designers are looking for marketing and financial assistance for this product that should improve dental practices as well as help to lighten its economic price tag.
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