Harnessing biomolecules for bioinspired dental biomaterials

J Mater Chem B. 2020 Oct 14;8(38):8713-8747. doi: 10.1039/d0tb01456g. Epub 2020 Aug 4.


Dental clinicians have relied for centuries on traditional dental materials (polymers, ceramics, metals, and composites) to restore oral health and function to patients. Clinical outcomes for many crucial dental therapies remain poor despite many decades of intense research on these materials. Recent attention has been paid to biomolecules as a chassis for engineered preventive, restorative, and regenerative approaches in dentistry. Indeed, biomolecules represent a uniquely versatile and precise tool to enable the design and development of bioinspired multifunctional dental materials to spur advancements in dentistry. In this review, we survey the range of biomolecules that have been used across dental biomaterials. Our particular focus is on the key biological activity imparted by each biomolecule toward prevention of dental and oral diseases as well as restoration of oral health. Additional emphasis is placed on the structure-function relationships between biomolecules and their biological activity, the unique challenges of each clinical condition, limitations of conventional therapies, and the advantages of each class of biomolecule for said challenge. Biomaterials for bone regeneration are not reviewed as numerous existing reviews on the topic have been recently published. We conclude our narrative review with an outlook on the future of biomolecules in dental biomaterials and potential avenues of innovation for biomaterial-based patient oral care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / therapeutic use*
  • Biomineralization / drug effects
  • Chitosan / chemistry
  • Chitosan / therapeutic use
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / therapeutic use
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Materials / chemistry
  • Dental Materials / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / instrumentation
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / methods
  • Humans
  • Immobilized Proteins / chemistry
  • Immobilized Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Mouth Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Mouth Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Periodontium / physiology
  • Regeneration / drug effects
  • Salivary Glands / physiology


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Materials
  • Immobilized Proteins
  • DNA
  • Chitosan