09/23/2013 11:32 EDT | Updated 09/23/2013 11:33 EDT

Nanodiamonds Encrust Teeth, Making Them Healthier, Stronger: Scientists

Okay okay... so nanodiamonds are actually invisible to the human eye. But that makes them all the more compelling as a potential boon for oral health.

UCLA researchers, along with counterparts at Northwestern University and the NanoCarbon Research Institute in Japan, are using the super-tiny particles (Nano is the word) to deliver proteins, bolstering and enhancing teeth, bones and cartilage.

“We’ve conducted several comprehensive studies, in both cells and animal models, looking at the safety of the nanodiamond particles,” said Laura Moore, the first author of the study, said in a press release. “Initial studies indicate that they are well tolerated, which further increases their potential in dental and bone repair applications.”

Nanodiamonds are also showing promise in fighting the debilitating effects of osteonecrosis — a disease that sees bones break down due to constricted blood flow.

And, despite, the blingy name, nanodiamonds are not all that rare. They're essentially the byproducts to mining and refining operations. Shaped like tiny balls, they're about four to five nanometres in diameter — virtually undetectable to the human eye.

But when deployed on teeth, researcher found them a very effective tool in nourishing and supporting oral health.

“Nanodiamonds are versatile platforms,” explained study co-author Dr. Dean Ho, study. “Because they are useful for delivering such a broad range of therapies, nanodiamonds have the potential to impact several other facets of oral, maxillofacial and orthopedic surgery, as well as regenerative medicine.”

In addition, researchers pointed out that a diamond's unique texture ensures proteins are delivered more slowly to ailing teeth, which, in turn, allows an affected area to be treated for a longer stretch of time.

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