While providing emergency dental services to the Perth area, one of the more surprising cases we treat on a regular basis is dental filling failure. According to a recent piece published in Science Daily about a research study done at the Bristol University*, as many as one dental filling out of seven may fail within 7 years.
Statistics indicate that bacterial infection is the cause of 86% of dental filling failures. According to Dr Michele Barbour, who is on the faculty of the University of Bristol’s School of Oral and Dental Sciences as a senior lecturer in biomaterials, a new biomaterial called Pertinax may extend protection against bacteria, viruses and fungi for “a much longer timeframe than is currently possible.”
So, what is Pertinax? It is a new production or formulation of the popular antimicrobial agent Chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine has been used for years in many different segments of medicine to treat and prevent infections, but its “window” of effectiveness is short. Pertinax is used to make Chlorhexidine provide longer protection against infections.
Pertinax was formulated by Dr Barbour, who won the Materials Science Venture Prize of 25,000 GBP from The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers for her work. According to Dr Barbour, “Pertinax can greatly extend the lifetime of Chlorhexidine, enabling it to provide reliable protection against infection for very much longer than was previously possible.”
Dr Barbour feels that her discovery enables the use of Chlorhexidine for a wider range of applications, while helping to increase the efficacy of current products and treatments.
Dr Barbour intends to initially focus on the field of dentistry. She has culled research indicating that longer-lasting antimicrobial products are sorely needed in the dental industry and can be used for bridges, fillings, crowns, orthodontic braces and other dental fixtures. It is her intent that Pertinax will help prevent bacterial infections in dental situations for a longer time than any current solutions.
Dr Barbour created Pertinax with an “unusually low rate of solubility.” This allows it to release more slowly over a longer timespan.
The Chairman of the Armourers and Brasiers Venture Prize judging panel, Professor Bill Bonfield, feels that Pertinax is a “significant development” and that it has the potential to treat and prevent infections in “millions of people.” Professor Bonfield went on to explain that the Venture Prize is designed to encourage and help fund scientific entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom and bring more products like Pertinax to market.
Pertinax is now a company and they have hired CEO Ashley Cooper to market the product. Mr Cooper sees many other uses besides dentistry for Pertinax, including wound care and catheters. Mr Cooper intends to use the prize money to develop a manufacturing process that is robust and scalable.
What it Means to You
So, what does this mean to someone looking for preventative dentistry or other dental services in the Perth area? For now, it isn’t going to make much of a difference. But it can make a big difference going forward. We don’t know how long before Pertinax will appear in Australia, but we know it will eventually make its way here.
In the meantime, though, we will continue to encourage that our patients use preventative measures to keep their fillings, crowns or orthodontic appliances from infecting. We also take the utmost care when providing fillings or crowns, making sure that the area is copacetic at the time you are getting your filling.
Ultimately, the best you can do is practise good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing every day. It also includes coming back twice a year for a cleaning and a checkup.
Call eDental Perth Today
We provide emergency dentistry, but we would much rather provide preventative dentistry. Call our Perth office today for an appointment: (08) 9361 1728.
*University of Bristol. “Important advance in the treatment, prevention of bacterial infection: Potential to have dramatic effect in dentistry, wound care and consumer healthcare.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150617135405.htm.