In dentistry, gold is a useful substance for creating dental prosthetics. It’s easy to mold, is hard enough to form a biting surface, and holds up to the wear and tear of exposure to saliva and food. But, dental prosthetics don’t work well for everyone – even gold ones.
Dental prosthetics require bone to anchor to so they can stay in place and do their job. If the bone isn’t healthy, it puts the viability of the prosthetic in jeopardy. For example: osteonecrosis reduces the blood flow to the jaw, causing bone to breakdown – necessitating prosthetics while also inhibiting their function.
Scientists from the UCLA School of Dentistry, the UCLA Department of Bioengineering, Northwestern University, and the NanoCarbon Research Institute in Japan all worked together to develop a way to combat osteonecrosis and promote bone growth using nano-diamonds.
Nano-diamonds can bind with both bone morphogenic protein and fibroblast growth factor. By administering an injection containing all of these ingredients, bone growth can be promoted much more easily than other methods.
The diamonds, which are byproducts of conventional mining and refining operations, are not actually visible to the human eye. So the method is a far cry from having a grill implanted. But, it’s still an important discovery that could expand the medicinal use of nano-diamonds beyond dentistry and into other fields.