Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have created a process that can manufacture 3D-printed teeth and braces which are actually good for your other teeth, and dental health in general.
3D-Printable Antimicrobial Composite Resins [paid PDF access] outlines the development of the new plastic resin used in the process, which involves embedding antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts inside extant dental resin polymers. Because the salts are positively charged, these disrupt negatively charged bacterial membranes, resulting in them bursting and dying. The mixture was then hardened with ultraviolet light.
The resin is capable of destroying 99% of bacteria, with the advantage that it doesn’t cause harm to humans. The researchers covered the samples with a mixture of saliva and streptococcus mutans (the bacterium that causes tooth decay) and found that the material had a sterilising effect on the bacteria.
While the results are highly positive, the researchers added that this was a prototype. Further testing is required to ensure that the material is tough enough to be used as an actual tooth, and also to assess whether the material is able to have the same effect on bacteria if utilised in products such as retainers or toothpaste.Read more