A natural compound found in grape seed extract could be used to strengthen dentin – the tissue beneath a tooth's enamel – and increase the life of resin fillings, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.No filling lasts forever, whether it is composite- resin or amalgam. But dentists find amalgam – a combination of mercury, silver, tin or other materials – easier to use and less costly. In addition, it can last 10 to 15 years or more. Composite-resin fillings are more esthetically pleasing because the mixture of plastic and fine glass particles can be colored to match a patient's teeth. However, the fillings typically last only five to seven years.In research published in the Journal of Dental Research, Associate professor of dentistry Ana Bedran-Russo described how grape seed extract can make composite-resin fillings stronger, allowing them to last longer. The extract, Bedran-Russo said, can increase the strength of the dentin, which comprises the majority of the calcified extracellular tissue of teeth, forming the layer just beneath the hard external enamel.Dentin is mostly made of collagen, the main structural protein in skin and other connective tissues. Resins have to bind to the dentin, but the area between the two, or the interface, is a weak point, causing restorations to break down, Bedran-Russo said.“When fillings fail, decay forms around it and the seal is lost. We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin,” she said. "The interface can be changed through the use of new natural materials.”More than 90% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have cavities, according to a US federal report. A cavity is a hole that forms in the tooth when acid produced by bacteria erodes the minerals faster than the tooth can repair itself. The dentist removes the decay, or caries, with a drill and seals the hole with a filling.Secondary caries and margin breakdown are the most frequent causes of failed adhesive restorations, Bedran-Russo said. Despite numerous advances in dental restorative materials, degradation of the adhesive interface still occurs. Bedran-Russo has discovered that damaged collagen can repair itself with a combination of plant-based oligomeric proanthocyanidins – flavonoids found in most foods and vegetables – and extracts from grape seeds. Interlocking the resin and collagen-rich dentin provides better adhesion and does not rely on moisture.“The stability of the interface is key for the durability of such adhesive joints, and hence, the life of the restoration and minimizing tooth loss,” Bedran-Russo continued.One of the possible benefits of using grape seed extract is that ithealth prevents tooth decay, she said. She and Guido Pauli, professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, recently collaborated on another study that showed extract from the root bark of Chinese red pine trees has similar properties to the grape seed extract.CHEAPER PARKING AT STATE HOSPITALS Parking at state-owned general hospitals is now limited to NIS 20 a day by the Health Ministry. The cost of parking was reduced following a decision by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman after he learned of exorbitant prices charged in many lots adjacent to the government hospitals.The change does not affect hospitals owned by Clalit Health Services or by voluntary organizations such as Hadassah-University, Shaare Zedek, Ma’ayanei Hayeshua or Laniado Medical Centers. The charge at government general hospitals is for all 24 hours from the minute that the driver enters the parking lot, without limit to the number of times he enters and leaves it within the 24-hour period.There will also be exemptions from payment for patients undergoing ambulatory dialysis, cancer patients under treatment and those accompanying them. Families of patients hospitalized for more than 14 days will be exempted from the 15th day, as will parents of premature babies if they come with one vehicle.Others exempted from fees are disabled with special parking permits, public vehicles that transport patients, families of hospitalized soldiers, on-duty military vehicles, Health Ministry employees who carry special permits and representatives of recognized voluntary organizations. Litzman said that he had promised to reduce parking fees in government hospitals and to reduce the amount of hospitalization time that qualifies relatives for an exemption.“There is no reason why a visit to the hospital be connected to unnecessary charges for parking,” he said.LOWER REQUIREMENTS FOR CLINICAL PHARMACISTSClinical pharmacists with a master’s or doctoral degree will no longer have to take a course and have five years of experience to write prescriptions for patients, according to a new bill passed Monday by the Knesset recently. The bill was proposed by committee chairman Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf. The pharmacist will have to have only two years’ experience in the field. Health Ministry chief of pharmacy Dr. Eyal Schwartzberg said he supported the bill, as the level of professionals is high enough to allow them to advise doctors and patients. The Israel Pharmacists Association said that there is a severe shortage of clinical pharmacies in the hospitals and health funds; in addition, there have been few approved job slots, and the salary is very low.