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Dental Focus Friday: Bioactive Foam

Bioactive Foam: Bye-Bye Bone Grafts?

Researchers at Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute and Texas A&M have been working on creating a new material that mimics bone. The uses of the “foam-like” material pose potential solutions for all sorts of dental and medical injuries. The material, according to Dentistry Today, could be used to replace skull bone lost to injury, surgery, birth defects; or even jawbone lost to periodontal disease, oral cancer, etc.

The reasoning behind the research is to find a solution to the difficult manipulation of rigid bone grafts in, essentially, esthetic areas. Not only are the bone grafts difficult to harvest, but they are extremely difficult to manipulate and integrate into such small areas of the craniofacial area. The foam would give a solution to these problems by allowing “moldable” material that can be formed and integrated easily into these small, esthetic areas.

In order to give the bioactive foam the “mold-ability”, the bioactive foam is coated in bioactive polydopamine (Dentistry Today, 2017). Polydopamine (PDA) has been shown to have the same molecular buildup as melanin in the human body. Being that the two can be closely related, a drawn conclusion can be made that PDA should have excellent biocompatibility to human tissues. This has been proven in vitro and PDA does indeed have a strong affinity for the attachment and spreading of cells. Hence, this type of patterning can allow for potential bone remodeling and/or rebuilding (Ding et al, 2016).

More research is being done in order to test for various formulations of the foam, which will eventually rule out the prototypes from the best products. Mariah Han, PhD. MS, states that there are many more years in the making before reaching the surgeons as an option for treatment. However, once this does “hit the selves” it will be the only product that does not need to be pretailored to the individual, as 3D printing and bone grafting does (Dentistry Today, 2017). That, with the low-cost and advantages of the body’s own healing ability, are big wins for future surgeons everywhere!


Dentistry Today (2017, April). Bioactive Foam Replaces Damaged Skull Bone and Jawbone. Retrieved May, 2017, from replaces-damaged-skull-bone-and-jawbone

Y.H. Ding, M. Floren, W. Tan, Mussel-inspired polydopamine for bio-surface functionalization, Biosurface and Biotribology, Volume 2, Issue 4, December 2016, Pages 121-136, ISSN 2405-4518, (

Keywords: Polydopamine; Functionalization; Biomedical application; Polymerization

Emma Stong, ASDOH ’19

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