He was recently featured in a BBC Four programme entitled ‘How to make…’ where he explained the principles behind BioMin F, which resulted in the programme maker, Dr Zoe Laughlin, describing BioMin F as ‘magic stuff’. This hugely boosted the public’s interest in the product.
Before BioMin F toothpaste was launched, vast amounts of research were carried out both at Queen Mary University and elsewhere, but that’s not the end of the story. Since the launch, studies have been ongoing around the world, especially in India and China, which have increased the knowledge base about BioMin F. Continuing research has also strengthened and justified BioMin F’s claims, both for remineralisation and reduction of dentine hypersensitivity.
‘It’s about getting the basics right,’ he said. ‘The glass particles are smaller than in other toothpastes, so they can enter the dentine tubules, and the fluoride content means that fluorapatite is formed, which is more durable than hydroxyapatite.’
The most compelling of the sensitivity studies, according to Professor Hill, is one from Kashmir last year comparing BioMin F with a paste containing Novamin (Sensodyne Repair and Protect) and a standard fluoride toothpaste. BioMin F was clearly shown to be more effective than both the others in managing the symptoms of dentine hypersensitivity.
Other studies have looked at fluoride availability, as the fluoride is released after brushing with BioMin F. ‘People assume that fluoride clearance is due to salivary flow,’ explained Professor Hill. ‘But based on a Chinese paper we now think that it’s also because of the rapid uptake of fluoride with the calcium and phosphate, meaning that BioMin F will form fluorapatite much faster than originally thought.’
One of Professor Hill’s top former PhD students, Professor Xiaojing Chen, has returned to China and has continued research into bioglasses there. Her clinical trials into the effectiveness of both BioMin F and BioMin C have shown that BioMin C is almost as effective as BioMin F at managing the symptoms of hypersensitivity. ‘The data is good,’ said Professor Hill, and it is encouraging as it means that BioMin C is a valid alternative to BioMin F for those who do not want to use a fluoride toothpaste. BioMin F and BioMin C now have both CE medical device certification and FDA NDC approval, reflecting the rigorous third party review processes required for these accreditations.
Professor Hill is keen to get more clinical studies underway to further substantiate BioMin F’s claims for remineralisation. ‘We need more clinical data on caries,’ he said. ‘We have lots of in vitro laboratory studies, but we need more information on how it performs in the mouth.’
His labs at QMUL are hard at work looking at new applications for the bioglass technology behind BioMin. Professional products, to be used by practitioners in the surgery, are under development, and work is underway looking at the possibilities of composite resin restoratives which will slowly release fluoride to deposit fluorapatite at the site of a cavity, remineralising any residual caries. Other avenues include the development of a varnish and orthodontic adhesives, both again based on the principle of slow release of fluoride.
‘We’ve got a good handle on most aspects of BioMin,’ said Professor Hill, ‘but this research adds to that knowledge. Science is not usually about one big breakthrough, it’s about improving our understanding all the time.’