Has your lack of oral hygiene left you with rotten teeth, or perhaps no teeth at all? If so, fret no more. A team of scientists at Netherlands-based University of Groningen has developed an innovative 3D-printed tooth that kills the millions of bacteria residing in your mouth, thereby preventing tooth decay. While the technology currently exists only as a prototype, the researchers believe that it could have far-reaching medical and non-medical applications.
For the research, the team developed a new type of plastic resin, by embedding quaternary ammonium salts into commonly-available dental polymers. Known for their powerful antimicrobial properties, these positively-charged salts actually rupture the negatively-charged bacterial membranes, causing them to burst and die. Finally, the resin mixture was hardened using ultraviolet light.
To test the efficacy of the 3D-printed tooth in killing bacteria, the researchers smeared human saliva, containing Streptococcus mutans (the microbe responsible for tooth decay), onto the resin mixture. It managed to annihilate more than 99-percent of the bacterial populace present in the saliva sample, without harming the tooth surface. According to the scientists, a single antimicrobial tooth would be able to prevent plaque buildup in the mouth.
For the technology to be viable, however, the team will have to ensure that the newly-developed composite resin is durable enough to function as an actual tooth. The researchers believe that the material can also be used as a sterilizing agent in retainers, toothpastes as well as in medical implants, such as knee spacers and hip prosthetic. Non-medical applications include food packaging, water purification and disinfecting of children’s toys. Speaking about the technology, Andreas Herrmann, a scientist at the University of Groningen, said:
It’s a medical product with a foreseeable application in the near future, much less time than developing a new drug.
Via: Daily Herald