Quite a few of us have probably lost a permanent tooth here and there; and losing a permanent tooth equals our ever dreaded trip to the dentist. Having to endure a mouthful of some gross putty-like gunk and plaster casts, getting some dentures or false teeth in general can be quite unpleasant.
Source: Dentistry Today
This won’t be for long, however, as scientists have found a way to create 3D printed teeth, opening the possibility of dentists using more advanced technology in their field. Oh, and did we mention that the teeth could also kill bacteria?
Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have developed an antimicrobial plastic, which would allow them to 3D print bacteria-killing teeth. Bacterial damage to already existing false tooth implants already costs patients millions of dollars in the US alone, so the team regards this project an important issue.
Source: Youtube, Crazydrone & Health Maker
They did this by mixing traditional dental polymers with antibacterial quaternary ammonium salts. These salts are positively charged, hence they bind to the negatively charged membranes of bacteria, causing them to burst and die. “The material can kill bacteria on contact, but on the other hand it’s not harmful to human cells,” says Andreas Hermann of the research team.
This mix was then put inside a 3D printer and hardened with UV light. They 3D printed not just false teeth, but also orthodontic braces, as well as some other dental objects.
Then they tested the antibacterial properties of the synthesized material by coating each material with a mix of saliva and Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria notorious for causing tooth decay. The results have shown that the material has killed over 99% of the bacteria, compared to the control group without the ammonium salts that killed less than 1%.
They plan on testing the product further in more practical real-life situations, such as leaving the samples for a longer period of time, as well as its compatibility with toothpaste. It shouldn’t take long, however, as “It’s a medical product with a foreseeable application in the near future, much less time than developing a new drug” says Hermann.