The research at our Lab Dental Materials focuses on (1) Research on dental sleep medicine and sleep apnea in the hospital, and (2) Development of research equipment for several research projects of our research group Translational Neurosciences. Due to retirements, we are no longer continuing our previous research lines on fatigue testing of dental bondings and dental composites.

Dental Sleep Medicine

Dental Sleep Medicine is research into and treatment of sleep related breathing problems, such as snoring and sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with a combination of therapies, such as:
• General health measures and lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss (the most important one), stopping with smoking, physical exercises, avoiding alcohol and sedatives close to bedtime. This is often combined with one of the other therapies below:
• A mask that is kept over the mount and nose during sleep (CPAP, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which supplies air under pressure.
• Sleep Position Trainers, to prevent sleeping on the back. Think of the well known "tennisball" sewed into the back of pyjamas, now replaced by modern electronic devices that more gently stimulate the person not to sleep on his back.
• Oral appliances, such as mandibular advancement devices (MAD), a sort of dental prosthesis that pulls the lower jaw forward during sleep, to keep the upper airways open and prevent them from collapsing and snoring. This is the "dental" aspect in Dental Sleep Medicine: these appliances fit over the teeth like other orthodontic appliances, and thus require dental or orthodontal knowledge for measurement and fitting.
• Upper airways surgery.
• Tongue nerve stimulation with electronic implants.
• Extra oxygen.
• Medication.

This research is done at the University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA - Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen).

For more info and for patient care, contact the specialists at the hospital, and have a look at these pages (in Dutch; all links open in a new window):

Development of research equipment

We also develop all sorts of research equipment and appliances. In the past this was mainly for our own dental research projects, but now it is for all research groups within Translational Neurosciences, and occasionally for other disciplines.

Developments include:
• 3D-design and 3D-printing of equipment for research projects, equipment for clinical use in the hospital (e.g. tools for surgery and for measurements on patients), sample holders for the lab, etc.,
• Mould-making and casting of silicones and composites,
• Prototype design of test equipment, including mechanical and simple electronics designs,
• Microprocessor programming on Arduino development boards,
• LabVIEW programming,
• Image editing, such as "photoshopping", vector-drawings, posters,...,
• Webdesign and E-book design, HTML and CSS. For example see the website (opens in new window),
• Etc...

Fatigue testing, and research into bonding strength of dental materials

Former research projects focused on the strength of dental materials, the strength of dental bondings, and their resistance to fatigue failure. Chewing creates a lot of mechanical stress on teeth, on dental fillings, and on the bonding between teeth and filling material. This causes fatigue phenomena, such as cracks and fractures. In our lab, we could simulate dental restorations in vitro in our fatigue machines, and subject them to well controlled loads for 10000 cycles. Fracture-surfaces could then be analysed with electron microscopy. But these research lines are no longer continued due to retirements.

We also subjected several types of dental anti-snoring appliances (MAD - Mandibular Advancement Appliance) to long term fatigue test on our hydraulic machine.