Researchers 3D print bacteria-killing teeth

University of Groningen researchers have developed a new type of prosthetic tooth that fights bacteria when implanted into a patient's mouth. This is accomplished using a newly developed antimicrobial plastic, a material that kills bacteria and thusly protects the implant from harm. Though the bacteria is killed on contact with the tooth, the material in the prosthetic won't harm human cells.

Prosthetic teeth are vulnerable to bacterial damage, which requires repair over time and is responsible for a substantial amount of money spent on dental work in the US. By adding antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts to dental resin polymers, the researchers may have developed a type of prosthetic that isn't vulnerable to such damage, enabling it to last much longer.

The aforementioned salts have been positively charge, which, upon interacting with negatively charge bacterial membranes, causes the unwanted bacteria to die. The antimicrobial material was then used with a 3D printer to create a false tooth, as well as other objects facilitated by such printing.

In addition to prosthetic teeth, the material can also be using to print other dental items, including braces. More extensive testing is needed before the material could find its way into the dental field, but it presents an exciting hint at the future of dental work.

SOURCE: New Scientist