The changing face of dentistry: nanotechnology

The human body comprises molecules; hence, the availability of molecular nanotechnology will permit dramatic progress to address medical problems and will use molecular knowledge to maintain and improve human health at the molecular scale. Nanomedicine could develop devices that are able to work inside the human body in order to identify the early presence of a disease, and to identify and quantify toxic molecules and tumor cells, for example. Nanodentistry will make possible the maintenance of comprehensive oral health by employing nanomaterials, including tissue engineering and, ultimately, dental nanorobots. This review is an attempt to highlight the possible applications of nanotechnology and the use of nanomaterials in dentistry.

The only thing that is constant in life is change. Two pivotal changes have transformed scientific medicine from a merely rational basis to a molecular basis. The first pivotal event was the drug revolution; the second pivotal event was the genetics revolution, starting with the discovery in 1953 of the information-carrying double-helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick and John B Watson. In the mid-1980s the Human Genome Project was launched, with the objective of fully sequencing every gene in the human genome. The first phase of this project neared completion as the 20th century drew to a close. Thus, the late 20th century is best regarded as the molecular age of basic biological science. The molecular influence pervades all the traditional disciplines underlying clinical medicine.

The tremendously growing scientific and innovative research, which is resulting in the trend of an aging population in both developed and developing countries, is provoking scientists to concentrate on the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering to look continuously for newer ways to apply the principles of cell transplantation and bioengineering to construct a biological substitute that will restore and maintain the normal function in diseased and injured tissues.1

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