Some time ago we told you about regeneration of lost teeth, However not in all cases this would have been possible, that’s why you are studying a smart dental implant, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today in this article.
More than 3 million people in America have dental implants, which are used to replace a tooth that is lost due to tooth decay, gum disease or injury, which is why implants are such a leap forward compared to prostheses or bridges, in fact, they fit much more securely and are designed to last 20 years or more.
However, implants often do not meet this expectation, instead needing to be replaced in 5-10 years due to local inflammation or gum disease, which requires the repetition of an expensive and invasive procedure for patients.
“We wanted to tackle this problem and so we designed a new innovative plant”
he claims Geelsu Hwang, a assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, who has an engineering background leading to her research on oral health issues.
The new smart dental implant would implement two key technologies, says Hwang:
- it’s a nanoparticle infused material that resists bacterial colonization;
- it’s a built-in light source to conduct phototherapy, fueled by the natural movements of the mouth, such as chewing or brushing your teeth.
In an article in the magazine ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and in a 2020 article in the magazine Advanced Healthcare Materials, Hwang and colleagues present their blueprint for a smart dental implant, which may one day be integrated not only in dental implants but in other technologies, such as joint prostheses.
“Phototherapy can address a diverse range of health problems but, once a biomaterial is implanted, it is impractical to replace or recharge a battery.
We are using a piezoelectric material, that it can generate electrical energy from natural oral movements to provide light capable of conducting phototherapy, and we find that it can work successfully by protecting gum tissue from bacterial contamination. “
In the paper, the material explored by the researchers was the barium titanate (BTO), which has piezoelectric properties exploited in applications such as capacitors and transistors, but has not yet been explored as a basis for anti-infectious implantable biomaterials.
The tests and study phases of the new smart dental implant
To test its potential as a base for a dental implant, the team first used discs embedded with BTO nanoparticles and exposed them to Streptococcus mutans, a primary component of the bacterial biofilm responsible for caries commonly known as dental plaque.
They found that the discs resisted biofilm formation in a dose-dependent manner. Disks with higher concentrations of BTO were better at preventing biofilm binding.
While previous studies had suggested that BTO could kill bacteria completely using reactive oxygen species generated by light-catalyzed or electrical polarization reactions, Hwang and colleagues did not find this to be the case due to the short-lived efficacy and of the off-target effects of these approaches. Instead, the material generates an enhanced negative surface charge that repels the cell walls of the negatively charged bacteria. This repulsive effect is likely to be lasting, the researchers say.
“We wanted an implant material that can resist bacterial growth for a long time because bacterial challenges are not a one-time threat,” says Hwang.
The energy-generating property of the material was maintained and in the tests over time the material did not leak. It also demonstrated a level of mechanical strength comparable to other materials used in dental applications.
Finally, the material did not damage normal gum tissue in the researchers’ experiments, supporting the idea that this could be used without adverse effects in the mouth.
The technology is a finalist in the Science Center’s research acceleration program, the QED Proof-of-Concept program. As one of 12 finalists, Hwang and colleagues will receive guidance from marketing experts. If the project progresses to be one of the three finalists, the group has the potential to receive up to $ 200,000 in funding.
“We hope to further develop the implant system and eventually see it commercialized so that it can be used in the dental field,” says Hwang.
In future work, the team hopes to continue to refine the ‘smart’ dental implant system, testing new types of materials and perhaps even using asymmetrical properties on each side of the implant components, one that encourages tissue integration on the side. facing the gums and one that resists bacterial formation on the side facing the rest of the mouth.
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