Dental implants

Dental implants are used to replace teeth that have been lost due to decay, gum disease, or accident by more than 3 million Americans. Implants are much superior to dentures or bridges because they fit more securely and are built to endure for 20 years or more. When implants don’t live up to that standard, patients are left with an expensive and intrusive surgery that must be repeated in order to have a new set of teeth. Geelsu Hwang, an associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine with an engineering background who applies it to his study on oral health problems, says, “We wanted to solve this issue and so we came up with a creative new implant.” According to Hwang, the new implant will use two cutting-edge technologies. One is a bacterial-resistant polymer impregnated with nanoparticles. The second is a phototherapy light source that is driven by mouth movements such as chewing or cleaning your teeth. A article in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces magazine and another in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials from 2020 describe Hwang and colleagues’ technology, which may be used in dental implants as well as other medical devices like joint replacements in the future.

“A wide range of health problems are addressed by phototherapy,” adds Hwang. “However, replacing or recharging a battery after it has been implanted is not an option. Phototherapy is being conducted using a piezoelectric material that can produce electrical power from natural mouth movements, and we have shown that it is effective in protecting gingival tissue against bacterial assault.” This study looked at a material called barium titanate (BTO), which possesses piezoelectric characteristics used in devices like capacitors and transistors, but has not previously been investigated as a basis for anti-infectious implantable biomaterials. Before using it as an implant foundation, researchers tested it with Streptococcus mutans, an important component of the bacterial biofilm that causes dental plaque, to see whether it would eat away at the BTO nanoparticles. The discs’ ability to prevent biofilm development was shown to be dose-dependent. BTO-rich discs were more effective in preventing biofilms from adhering.

Previous research indicated that BTO might use reactive oxygen species produced by light-catalyzed or electric polarization processes to kill bacteria entirely, but this was disproven by Hwang and colleagues owing to the short-term effectiveness and off-target consequences of these methods. Material instead produces increased negative surface charge that prevents bacteria’s cell walls from attaching to the surface. According to the experts, this aversion may persist for a long time. “Bacterial problems are not a one-time danger,” says Hwang. “We sought an implant material that could resist bacterial development for a long period.” The material’s ability to generate electricity remained stable, and tests conducted over time revealed no signs of leaching. It also showed similar mechanical strength to other dental-related materials.Finally, in the tests conducted by the researchers, the substance had no negative effects on normal gingival tissue, indicating that it may be safely utilized in the mouth.

Science Center’s QED Proof-of-Concept program has named this device a finalist. Hwang and his associates will benefit from the expertise of commercialization specialists as one of the top 12 finalists. The group may earn up to $200,000 in financing if their idea is selected as one of the final three. They hope to test new material types in future research and perhaps even use asymmetric properties on both sides of the implant components, one to encourage tissue integration on the gums and one to resist bacterial formation on the rest of the mouth, in order to refine the “smart” dental implant system even further. According to Hwang, “We aim to further improve the implant system and ultimately commercialize it so that it may be utilized in the dentistry sector”. Geelsu Hwang is a University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine assistant professor in the Division of Restorative Dentistry and the Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences.

Atul Dhall of Penn Dental Medicine, Yu Zhang of Temple University, and Sayemul Islam, Moonchul Park, and Albert Kim of Penn Dental Medicine were Hwang’s coauthors on the article. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation provided funding for this study (Grant 2029077). Penn’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology, funded by the NSF National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Program under Grant NNCI-1542153, had a role in the research.

Journal Reference : Atul Dhall, Sayemul Islam, Moonchul Park, Yu Zhang, Albert Kim, Geelsu Hwang. Bimodal Nanocomposite Platform with Antibiofilm and Self-Powering Functionalities for Biomedical ApplicationsACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2021; 13 (34): 40379 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.1c11791

Categories: Dental