New Partnership Paving Way for New Approach to Dental Fillings

mercury in dental fillings

Recent ban of silver amalgam necessitated alternatives

In the United Kingdom, the phasing out of mercury in dental fillings to reduce mercury exposure and pollution began in 2018, with the ban of silver coloured amalgam in children under 15. 

The current filling alternative exists as an invasive process involving drilling and discomfort for children under local anaesthetic in order to place a non-durable white filling.

Now Professors Anne Young and Paul Ashley of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute are developing a self-bonding, easily implanted composite material that can return a tooth to its original appearance and function in just two minutes. 

Currently, 16 percent of U.K. three-year olds and 23 percent of U.K. five-year olds have dental cavities that require fillings. These numbers are even higher in countries where high sugar consumption is combined with poor dental hygiene education and resources, such as Thailand, which sees figures closer to 75 or 80 percent. 

This, paired with the fear of injections and drilling, means that the challenge of how to fill children’s teeth has become increasingly difficult and there is a huge unmet medical need to develop an alternative dental composite.

With the help of the UCL Translational Research Office, Professors Young and Ashley gained an NIHR i4i Product Development Award* of almost £1 million, which funded the development and optimisation of the SMART composite, manufacture and regulatory requirements culminating in the successful completion of a phase 1 safety trial.

“This collaboration is a perfect practical example of the philosophy set out in our mission statement of ‘Improving dentistry together’. Collaborating with the highly talented and motivated team at UCL Eastman Dental Institute has not only benefited the Institute and ourselves but also, and most importantly, the patients who rely on us for their care,” said Dr. Brian Schottlander, managing director of Schottlander. 

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