Silicon nitride is a ceramic amalgam that is used for spinal surgery implants. Many forms of bacteria are destroyed on contact with the substance.

Now,dental researchers are beginning to experiment with it to see if it can help fight gum disease.

A combined team of Japanese and American researchers reported recently in the magazine Langmuir on their experiments with silicon nitride tooth coatings.

The results have been encouraging.

After only six days of exposure to the substance, several strains of bacteria known to cause gum disease were found to have degraded nuclei — ┬ámeaning they were unable to reproduce or multiply. The effect on bacterial metabolism is now proven when silicon nitride is included.

While further studies are indicated, scientists are now hopeful this new method will signifigantly decrease the number of patients being treated for gum disease in the near future.