A Singaporean engineer has applied for a patent on a dental filling using materials designed originally for armoured military vehicles and construction beams, allowing cracked or decayed teeth to be saved.

“As an engineer, I never thought of building things for something as small as a human tooth,” mechanical engineer Seeram Ramakrishna, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, told the Straits Times.

“But if you regard a tooth as a small structure, you can say this is also engineering, but at a micro level,” he added.

Ramakrishna, who is looking for a foreign company to market the product internationally, said he worked on the project after a chance discussion on tooth fractures with a dentistry professor from the same university.

His braid-like filling, made from composite materials including carbon and glass fibers, will be able to withstand strong pressure but will still be flexible enough to move with the tooth, the newspaper reported.

It is one of the pioneering projects in a “bio-engineering” unit employing engineering techniques to address medical problems such as spinal injuries and cancer treatment. Singapore is boosting the life sciences sector as a key source of economic growth in the long term.