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.
Grape Seed for 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.”
About 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
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.
Damaged Collagen can Repair Itself
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.”
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.