Provided are antibacterial and antimicrobial surface coatings and dental materials by utilizing the antimicrobial properties of copper chalcogenide and/or copper halide (CuQ, where Q=chalcogens including oxygen, or halogens, or nothing). An antimicrobial barrier is created by incorporation of CuQ nanoparticles of an appropriate size and at a concentration necessary and sufficient to create a unique bioelectrical environment. The unique bioelectrical environment results in biocidal effectiveness through a multi-factorial mechanism comprising a combination of the intrinsic quantum flux of copper (Cu.sup.0, Cu.sup.1+, Cu.sup.2+) ions and the high surface-to-volume electron sink facilitated by the nanoparticle. The result is the constant quantum flux of copper which manifests and establishes the antimicrobial environment preventing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria. The presence of CuQ results in inhibiting or delaying bacterial destruction and endogenous enzymatic breakdown of the zone of resin inter-diffusion, the integrity of which is essential for dental restoration longevity.
This invention was made with Government support under Grant No. P20RR017696 awarded by the National Institute of Health, SC COBRE for Oral Health Research and Grant No. DE-FG02-06ER46342 awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.