To improve treatments of bone or dental trauma and diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, and infections, scientists who perform basic research are collaborating with clinicians to design and test new biomaterials for the regeneration of lost or injured tissue. Developed some 40 years ago, bioactive glass (BG) has recently become one of the most promising biomaterials, a consequence of discoveries that its unusual properties elicit specific biological responses inside the body. Among these important properties are the capability of BG to form strong interfaces with both hard and soft tissues, and its release of ions upon dissolution. Recent developments in nanotechnology have introduced opportunities for materials sciences to advance dental and bone therapies. For example, the applications for BG expand as it becomes possible to finely control structures and physicochemical properties of materials at the molecular level. Here, we review how the properties of these materials have been enhanced by the advent of nanotechnology, and how these developments are producing promising results in hard-tissue regeneration and development of innovative BG-based drug delivery systems. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013, 5:399–410. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1224
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Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.