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Improving Restorative Materials With Ductile Machining

Yu Zhang, PhD, a professor in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, is exploring new ways to create more durable ceramic restorations, as well as a novel imaging system that lets oral health professionals see under restorative materials. These developments may add to the durability and overall longevity of restorations, and help clinicians maintain the oral health of patients with restorations. 

With expertise in physics, engineering, and material properties, Zhang is studying a technique known as ductile machining for the fabrication of ceramic restorations. Unlike the approach commonly employed by laboratory technicians that uses diamond burs to grind ceramics to the correct form, ductile machining does not needlessly stress zirconia or result in chipped material. Ductile machining is also easy on the burs, which require frequent replacement under common fabrication techniques. 

Additionally, Zhang is working with Jian Xu, PhD, an assistant professor in the Division of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Louisiana State University, to develop a system to image through zirconia and other dental ceramics, which block typical radiography methods. If perfected, this capability will allow oral health professionals to identify caries or other conditions that may be developing under dental restorations. 

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