Progression in Dentistry: 3D Printed Bacteria Fighting Teeth

Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria which causes tooth decay. Photo by NIAID

As times change, so to must science, and for that matter, dentistry. With diets high in sugars, preservatives and thus bacteria, coupled with a lack of education and concentrated areas of poverty, about 26 percent of adults suffer from tooth decay. While tooth decay may not seem like a huge deal, according to the Dental Health Foundation, mouth disease holds a high correlation with certain diseases, especially cancer and heart disease. Some may assume that people who have dentures are immune from such issues, however, that is untrue. Those who wear dentures are susceptible to a slew of mouth disease which can lead to illness in other parts of the body. Fortunately, some researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands may be revolutionizing how we deal with mouth disease in those who wear dentures or who have implants.

Bacteria Fighting 3D Printed Teeth

Digital dentistry may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction movie, but it is actually upon us all ready with computer aided implant dentistry, lasers and shade matching.  3D printed bacteria fighting teeth, in the form of implants and even dentures, have recently become a reality, too as Stratasys unveiled its first tooth printing 3D printer, called the  Objet260 Dental Selection. However, the Dutch researchers at the University of Groningen have decided to take it one step further with anti-bacterial teeth. The Washington Post describes the method scientists are using to create the anti-bacterial teeth, ” the researchers embedded antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts inside existing dental resin polymers.” The mix is then hardened by an ultraviolet light in the 3D printer and become, viola, dentures or implants with bacteria fighting properties.

After securing the first models of these revolutionary teeth, the scientists at UG put the teeth to the test. Coating both the anti-bacterial teeth and untreated teeth in human saliva, exposing the teeth to bacterium which is prone to cause tooth decays, the scientists observed the outcome. The anti-bacterial teeth killed over 99% of the bacterium while the untreated teeth only killed about 1%. Their observations also concluded that the anti-bacterial agents used in the teeth were not harmful to human cells.

The cost of these anti-bacterial dentures and implants, if they ever come to fruition are projected to be relatively inexpensive, so would be greatly beneficial to those prone to tooth decay or mouth disease. Lets keep our fingers crossed for the future and keep our mouths healthy by regularly visiting Dr. Dan Matthews!

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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