Bioactive glass, a specific mixture of sodium oxide, calcium oxide, silicon dioxide, and phosphorus pentoxide, is now used as an orthopedic treatment to restore damaged bone and repair bone defects. Bioactive glass is a material you put into your body, and it begins to dissolve, telling cells and bone to become more active and produce new bone.
The glass works so well for two main reasons. First, as it dissolves, it forms a surface layer of hydroxycarbonate apatite, a mineral similar to bone. It interacts with bone, and the body recognizes it as a native rather than a foreign object. Second, as the glass dissolves, it releases ions that signal cells to produce new bone.
Bioactive glass is also helpful in regenerating chronic wounds like diabetic ulcers. Cotton wool-like glass dressings have been shown in studies to heal wounds that have not responded to other treatments, such as diabetic foot ulcers.
Bioactive glass is most commonly found in sensitive toothpaste, where it promotes the natural mineralization of teeth. Sensitive teeth are caused by tubules that lead into the nerve cavity in the center of the tooth, and if those tubules are mineralized, there is no way into the pulp cavity.