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New dental material resists plaque, kills microbes
December 14, 2017, 2:55 pm

For ages, dentists have relied on various composite materials to perform restorative procedures, such as filling cavities. However, these materials, just like the original tooth enamel, are susceptible to the growth of plaque, the sticky biofilm that leads to tooth decay.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in the US have found a new dental material that when tethered to an antimicrobial compound can, not only kill bacteria but also resist the growth of biofilm. In addition, unlike some drug-infused materials, it is effective with minimal toxicity to the surrounding tissue, as it contains a low dose of the antimicrobial agent that kills only the bacteria that come in contact with it.

The newly developed material is composed of a resin embedded with the antibacterial agent imidazolium. Unlike some traditional biomaterials, which slowly release a drug, this material is non-leachable and only kills microbes that touch it. "This also has the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of antimicrobial resistance,” the researchers claimed.

The research showed that the material, not only killed bacterial cells on contact but also severely disrupted the ability of biofilms to grow on its surface. Only negligible amounts of biofilm matrix, the glue that holds clusters of bacteria together, were able to accumulate on the experimental material, in contrast to a control composite material, which showed a steady accumulation of sticky biofilm matrix over time.

The study team also found that the smallest amount of shear force could remove the biofilm on the experimental material, in contrast to a force four times stronger that was needed to remove the biofilm from the control composite material.

The force equivalent to taking a drink of water was found to be sufficient to remove the biofilm from the new material.

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