High-tech dentures—fighting bacteria with nanotechnology

July 16, 2018, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Scanning electron microscopy: E. coli bacteria try to dock with a nanostructured model surface. Credit: Patrick Doll, KIT

Vasodilating stents, "labs-on-chips" for analysis on smallest areas, 3-D cell culturing systems for tissue reconstruction: microtechnology is gaining importance in the medical sector. It also opens up new potentials in the area of implantology. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), together with experts for dental implants, have now developed a nanostructured surface to accelerate wound healing after implantation and to better protect it against the attack of bacteria.

"Microtechnology can sustainably improve ," says Professor Andreas Guber, who with Dr. Ralf Ahrens, heads the Biomedical Microtechnology (BioMEMS) research group at KIT's Institute of Microstructure Technology. Modern dental implants consist of a titanium screw that is fixed in the jawbone to replace the dental root, a connected abutment made of titanium for tooth replacement, and the visible dental crown. Titanium is the material of choice. It is biocompatible and ensures good growth of the screw into the bone, which is also called osseointegration. So far, optimization of dental implants has focused mainly on the titanium surface of the screw in order to further improve this process. However, dental implants may become inflamed even after successful osseointegration.

The main gateway for bacteria is the abutment. If the gum is not in perfect contact with the abutment, pockets may form, via which bacteria can reach the jawbone and cause inflammation there. In this case, the complete has to be removed again. The BioMEMS team now wants to solve this problem. Research is based on an optimized abutment developed by the specialist "Abutments4Life." Grooves smaller than the width of a hair circulate the abutment and guide the cells responsible for wound healing into the right direction. In this way, is accelerated. "This system is our point of departure," Patrick Doll, scientist of IMT, says. Further development focuses on two aspects: more precise structuring of the grooves for better guiding of the cells and search for an optimum nanosurface to which the bacteria cannot attach.

With an electron-beam lithography system, Doll produced columnar structures of 100 nanometers in diameter and 500 nanometers in height. These structures were then used to carry out adhesion experiments with typical test bacteria, such as S. aureus, E. coli or P. aeruginosa. Moreover, the structures were varied constantly. The result: depending on the distance and arrangement of the columns, adhesion of is reduced and formation of a biofilm is delayed. Hence, recovering cells have more time to close the wound, an effect that would otherwise be achieved by antibiotics only.

"We think that our structural approach is very promising," Doll emphasizes. Production of the silicon-based nanostructures is perfect and reproducible. In the course of the project, the scientists also developed methods for use of titanium. After the first phase in the lab, preclinical tests will follow soon. Apart from dental medicine, experts see application potentials for bone plates, hearing implants, or artificial joints, among others.

Explore further: Periodontal cell sheet technique promotes bone and ligament formation on dental implant

Related Stories

Periodontal cell sheet technique promotes bone and ligament formation on dental implant

June 13, 2018
Researchers used periodontal ligament (PDL)-derived stem cells to create a cell sheet, attached it to a titanium implant, and transplanted it into the mandibular bone of a dog, demonstrating the formation of a periodontal-like ...

Pricey dental implants often best but insurance rarely pays

March 14, 2018
Dental implants are increasingly being used to replace missing or failing teeth instead of dentures or bridges, which can be uncomfortable and hasten further deterioration. But implants can be very expensive and rarely are ...

Recommended for you

Regrowing dental tissue with stem cells from baby teeth

September 11, 2018
Sometimes kids trip and fall, and their teeth take the hit. Nearly half of children suffer some injury to a tooth during childhood. When that trauma affects an immature permanent tooth, it can hinder blood supply and root ...

The starch risk to teeth

August 7, 2018
An examination of research on oral health, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has indicated that for oral health we should stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones, especially if sweet.

Experts question benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste

August 7, 2018
Dental health experts worry that more people are using toothpaste that skips the most important ingredient—fluoride—and leaves them at a greater risk of cavities.

Researchers discover cellular messengers communicate with bacteria in the mouth

May 8, 2018
A new UCLA-led study provides clear evidence that cellular messengers in saliva may be able to regulate the growth of oral bacteria responsible for diseases, such as periodontitis and meningitis.

Drug-filled, 3-D printed dentures could fight off infections

April 25, 2018
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. denture-wearing population suffer frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth.

Bacteria boost antifungal drug resistance in severe childhood tooth decay

April 25, 2018
Early childhood caries, a form of severe tooth decay affecting toddlers and preschoolers, can set children up for a lifetime of dental and health problems. The problem can be significant enough that surgery is the only effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.