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University of Missouri

Fill It Up

Research helps dental fillings last longer.

plasma brush

The researchers’ plasma brush creates a stronger bond between a tooth and the dental composite resin used to fill cavities, resulting in fewer dental visits. The brush’s “cool flame” is designed to be quick and fairly non‐invasive. Photo courtesy of MU Engineering.

A pair of engineering researchers at MU is conducting clinical trials of new technology that could decrease dental care costs by making fillings last longer. Qingsong Yu, MS ’95, PhD ’98, and Hao Li are testing their plasma brush, which they think could improve current fillings by creating a stronger bond between teeth and the resin that fills cavities. In addition to modifying the dentin, the extra step of using the plasma brush kills bacteria. Research began seven years ago with a grant from the National Science Foundation to look at the same technology car manufacturers use to improve the bond between bumpers and paint, Yu says. His research team hopes this dental version will lead to fewer dental visits.