The deposition and imaging of silica sub-micron particles in dentine

Sunil Claire, Anthony Walmsley, Sophie Glinton, Hayley Floyd, Rachel Sammons, Zoe Pikramenou

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Sub-micron particles may assist in the delivery of compounds into dentine tubules. The surface interactions of the particles with dentine may prevent them from entering the tubules. The aim of this study is to investigate whether silica particles, treated with surfactants improves dentine tubules occlusion using both artificial and human tooth models


Spherical silica particles (size 130–810 nm) bearing an encapsulated ruthenium luminescent complex were coated with the following surfactants: Zonyl® FSA, Triton® X-100 and Tween20®. The particles were prepared as 0.004% w/v and 0.04% w/v solutions with deionized water and were applied to the surface of; (1) in vitro model of PET ThinCert™ cell culture inserts; (2) 0.1 mm thick sections of human molar teeth.


Scanning electron and confocal fluorescence microscopy images show that particles without any coating and with TritonX-100 coating had the highest aggregation. Particles with Tween-20 are less aggregated on the surface and show inclusion in the tubules. Particles coated with fluorosurfactant Zonyl show a preference for aggregation at the tubule. With the ThinCert™ membranes high aggregation within the artificial tubules was increased by particle concentration.


The use of silica sub-micron particles on hard dental tissues is dependent on the modification of the surface chemistry of both the particle and the dentine and the employment of the fluorοsurfactant may improve tubule occlusion. The use of ThinCerts™ membrane is useful in vitro model to mimic dentinal tubules and observe the ability of particles to occlude small channels.

Clinical significance

The use of silica sub-micron particles on hard dentine tissues is dependent on the modification of the surface coating of the particles. This may influence how particles are incorporated in potential delivery vehicles applied to the dentine surface with the employment of a fluorosurfactant showing promise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1248
JournalJournal of Dentistry
Issue number10
Early online date7 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Dentine
  • Sub-micron particles
  • Surfactants
  • Dentinal tubules
  • Microscopy
  • Surface coating


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