Could Nanotechnology Be The Future Of Modern Dentistry?

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The word nano is originated from the Greek word “dwarf”. The concept of nanotechnology was first elaborated in1959 by Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize winning physicist, in a lecture titled, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom”. The term nanotechnology was first defined by Norio Taniguchi of Tokyo Science University in 1974 paper as follow: ‘Nanotechnology’ mainly consists of the processing of, separation, consolidation and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule.[1]

Nanotechnology is the science involved in applications of materials whose smallest unit of measurement is on the nanometer scale. Nanotechnology have a potential to provide benefits in various fields such as production of new materials with advanced features and properties,  electronics, energy conservation, nanobiosystems, medical appliance, dentistry etc.

Nanotechnology is offering improvements in prevention, diagnostics and treatment of various oral diseases.[2] Dentistry is also facing major revolution by targeting ‘nanomaterials’.[3] Application of nanotechnology in dentistry has significant potential to yield new generation of technologically advanced drug delivery systems tools and devices for oral health. Dental caries, tooth hypersensitivity and oral cancer can be quantified based on morphological, biophysical and biochemical nanoscale properties of the tooth surface itself and dental materials or oral fluids such as saliva.


Nanomaterials are the materials with components less than 100 nm in atleast one dimension. Nanomaterials in one dimension are termed as sheets, in two dimensions as nanowires and as quantum dots in three dimensions.[1]

The various nanostructures are:-

  • Nanopores
  • Nanotubes
  • Quantum dots
  • Nanoshells
  • Dendrimers


Nanotechnology has application in many fields like[4]

  • Medicine
  • 1] Diagnostics2] Drug delivery3] Tissue engineering
    • Energy

    1] Reduction of energy consumption

    2] Recycling of batteries

    3] Increasing the efficiency of energy production

    • Information and communication

    1] Novel semiconductor devices

    2] Novel optoelectronic devices

    • Chemistry and environment

    1] Catalysis

    2] Filtration


    Nanodentistry will make possible the maintenance of near perfect oral by employing nanomaterials, including tissue engineering and dental nanorobots.


    A colloidal suspension containing millions of active analgesic micron size dental robots can be instilled on patient’s gingiva. After contacting crown surface or mucosa, the ambulating nanorobots reach the pulp via lamina dura, gingival sulcus and dentinal tubules. Once installed in pulp, the nanorobots may be commanded to shut down all the sensitivity in the tooth requiring treatment followed by restoration of all sensation after completion of all procedure.[5]


    Dentin hypersensitivity may be caused by the changes in pressure transmitted hydro dynamically to the pulp, it is because the hypersensitive tooth have higher surface density and greater diameter of dentinal tubules. Dental nanorobots can be used to precisely occlude dentinal tubules, offering patients a quick and permanent cure.[6]


    Orthodontic robots could be directly act upon periodontal tissues, allowing rapid and painless tooth straightening, rotating and vertical repositioning.


    Quantum dots can be used as photo sensitizers and carriers. They can bind to antibody on the surface of target cell when UV light is stimulated and they can give rise to reactive oxygen species and thus will be lethal to the target cells.[7]


    Using nanotechnology as a method of drug delivery will help in overcoming the problem of reduction in dosage of drug, solubility, will reduce adverse effects and may also lead to increased bioavailability.[4]


    Nanotechnology can be used in diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer. Nanoscale Cantilevers, Cantilever Array Sensors, Nanopores, Nanotubes, Quantum Dots, Multipexing Modality can be used in diagnosis of oral cancer


  • Nanomaterial for brachytherapy
  • Nanovectors for gene therapy
  • Non viral gene delivery system
  • Drug delivery across the blood – brain barrier[6]


High impact human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological diseases, are challenging to diagnose without supplementing clinical evaluation with laboratory testing. Oral fluid being the ‘mirror of the body’ is a perfect medium to be explored for health and disease surveillance. A major drawback to use saliva as a diagnostic fluid has been the notion that important informative analytes are generally present in lower amounts in saliva than in serum.

But with new and very sensitive techniques including nanotechnology, the lower level of analytes in saliva is no longer a limitation. Thus saliva meets the demands for inexpensive, non – invasive and east to use diagnostic tool.


Nanotechnology has motivated mimicking of nanostructural features of natural human enamel and developments of bio – inspired strategies for remineralisation and caries therapy. The field of caries therapy based on the application of nanotechnology focus on 3 topics:

  • Remineralisation of initial caries lesion:- casein phosphopeptide amorphous calcium phosphate nanocomplexes have been shown to promote enamel mineralization and provide anti-cariogenic activity.
  • Caries – preventive nanofillers added to resin composite:- nano calcium fluoride containing composites with high flexural strength and sustained fluoride release may have the potential to reduce restoration fracture and secondary caries.
  • Biomimetric synthesis of enamel for repair of caries lesion with enamel like nanomaterials;- since enamel is unable to repair itself therefore, biomimetric strategies for artificial enamel formation, might have potential to repair enamel surface damage and increase the longevity of the teeth.


Bio-films are surface adherent population of micro – organisms consisting of cells, water and extracelluar matrix material. Nanotechnology can offer better insight into the spatial relationship between different species and how their diversity increases over time. It can guide in understanding the role of interspecies interaction in development of bio-film. It can further enable us to detect both cultivable and non cultivable bacteria with the help of nanochip.


Titanium is a biocompatible material that possesses the potential to promote bone generation around it, thus is extensively used in orthopedic and dental implants. Most titanium surfaces used in dental implants currently are roughened at a micrometer scale. Thus surface manifest better osteogenic responses, faster bone formation and increased tissue – titanium mechanical interlocking.


Nanotechnology will change dentistry, healthcare and human life more profoundly, but nanotechnology still faces many significant challenges in realizing its tremendous potential. In the coming years, nanotechnology will play a key role in dentistry and medicine for early disease detection, diagnostic and therapeutic procedure to improve health and mankind.


  1. Bhardwaj A, Bhardwaj A, Misuriya A, Maroli S, ManjulaS, Singh A K. Nanotechnology in dentistry: present and future. J Int Oral Health. 2014;6:(1):121-126.
  2. Lainovic T, Blazic L, Potran M. Nanotechnology in dentistry- current state and future perspectives. Serbia Dent J. 2012;59:(1):44-47.
  3. Jhaveri H M, Balaji P R. Nnaotechnology: Te future of dentistry. J Indian Prosthodont Soc.2005;5:(1):15-17.
  4. Kumar P S, Kumar S, Savadi R C, John J. Nanotechnology: A Paradigm Shift – from fiction to reality. J Indian Prosthodont Soc.2011;11:(1):1-6.
  5. Saravana Kumar R, Vijaylaxmi R. Nanotechnology in dentistry. Ind J Dent Res. 2006;17:(2):62-65.
  6. Nagalaxmi V, Goyal S. Small Wonders, paving a great future – nanotechnology. Ann Essences Dent.2012;4:(1):99-101.
  7. Kaira L S, Sharma D, Katna V, Chadda A S, Singh R. Nanodentistry – The New Era In Dentistry. Indian J Dent Sci.2012;4:(3):131-133.
  8. Verma S K, Prabhat K C, Goyal L, Rani M, Jain A. A critical review of the implication of nanotechnology in modern dental practice. Natl J Maxillofac Surg.2010;1:(1):41-44.
  9. Das M, Ramesh S, Subbarao C V. Nanotechnology in target drug delivery – Its scope in dentistry and medicine. Rec Res Sci Tech.2012;4:(6)05-06.
  10. Pramod B J, Sujata S, Dayananda B C, Nagaraju K, Shaikh S. Nanosystems: Role In ONCOLOGY – An Overview. Indian J Dent Sci. 2013;5:(1):108-113.
  11. Poonia M, Ramalingam K, Goyal S, Sidhu S K. Nanotechnology in oral cancer: A comprehensive review. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2017:21;407-414

Dr Mamta Tanwar

(Dental Intern)

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