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J Dent Res. 1994 Sep;73(9):1560-7.

Sterilization of teeth by gamma radiation.

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UCSF School of Dentistry, Department of Restorative Dentistry 94143-0758.


Clinical simulations and restorative materials research and development conducted in vitro require the use of large numbers of extracted teeth. The simultaneous need for infection control procedures and minimal alterations of structure and properties of the tissue prompted this study of gamma irradiation as a method to eliminate microbes associated with extracted teeth and their storage solutions. Evaluations of potential change in structure of dentin were conducted in terms of permeability, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and optical properties. The dose required for sterilization by gamma irradiation was established by means of a tooth model inoculated with Bacillus subtilis (10(8) organisms/mL). Sterilization occurred at a dose above 173 krad with use of a Cesium (Cs137) radiation source. Gamma irradiation did not affect permeability of crown segments of dentin. A comparative evaluation of the effects of four sterilization methods on dentin disks was based on FTIR and ultraviolet-visible-near infrared (UV/VIS/NIR) spectra before and after sterilization by (1) gamma irradiation; (2) ethylene oxide; (3) dry heat; and (4) autoclaving. No detectable changes were found with gamma irradiation, but all other methods introduced some detectable change in the spectra. This suggests that common methods of sterilization alter the structure of the dentin, but gamma irradiation shows promise as a method which both is effective and introduces no detectable changes as measured by FTIR, UV/VIS/NIR, or permeability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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