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ADA Science & Research Institute scientist receives NIH grant to develop self-cleaning dental material

October 01, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

Photo of Jirun Sun
Dr. Sun
The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded a two-year grant totaling $459,000 to Jirun Sun, Ph.D., with the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute, to develop coatings or additives for dentures, implants and resin restorations for dental caries prevention and treatment.

The goal of the proposed research is to develop pH-responsive "smart" materials that prevent biofilm formation. Successful completion of the project will advance research into materials that will reduce infection and pain for dental patients in the future.

"It will likely revolutionize the dental material field by developing dental material with self-cleaning capability as well as acid-activated antimicrobial ability, which will greatly reduce the accumulation of biofilm, particularly acid-producing bacteria, thus improving oral health," said Dr. Xuesong He, Ph.D., with the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is collaborating with Dr. Sun on the research. "Our proposed research represents one of the novel strategies for combating dental caries by reengineering the microbiome via targeted suppression of specific cariogenic bacteria that are more capable of producing acid, a major cavity-causing agent."

Dr. Sun, senior project leader in the Department of Innovation & Technology Research, will serve as the research team's contact principal investigator. His co-investigator, Dr. He, is an oral microbiome expert at the Forsyth Institute, which is a leader in the development of technology to improve oral and overall health through innovative research. The research is also supported by Department of Innovation & Technology Research materials scientist Xiaohong Wang, Ph.D., and a postdoctoral research fellow.

"If our approach it successful, we will not only prevent dental issues for the patient but also reduce the overall pain that comes from dental infections," Dr. Sun said. "Our collaborative and multidisciplinary teamwork approach will be a key to our success."

The ADASRI is a recognized leader in oral health sciences, research and technological innovation. The primary goal of the ADASRI is to be a "research center of excellence" that advances dentistry, improves oral health and provides the evidence base for use by health care professionals, the public, policymakers and professional organizations.

The Department of Innovation & Technology Research, based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, focuses on early product development that has the potential for significant clinical impact and public benefit. Department scientists work to further emerging technologies and translate discoveries into real-world impacts.

To learn more about the ADASRI, visit ADA.org/SRI.