3D printing technology has proved to be promising in the dental industry, enabling practitioners to improve patient care. With the wave of the digital wand, dental crowns and implants are custom-made for the comfort of patients in just over an hour. But as with other technologies, there’s always something people look forward to.
One of the most-talked-about in 3D printing in dentistry: teeth that can kill bacteria in the mouth.
Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands developed an antimicrobial plastic that would produce 3D printed teeth that have bacteria-killing capabilities.
What the scientists did was to create a mixture of antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts and existing dental resin polymers. That mix goes into a 3D printer, then takes a post-curing step under ultraviolet light, so it prints out a 3D replacement tooth.
To test the bacteria-killing tooth, the scientists brushed it with human saliva and exposed it to a bacterium that damages the enamel. They found that the 3D printed tooth destroyed 99% of the bacteria. Plus, there were no indications that it could harm human cells.
It’s a crucial discovery since bacterial damage is a common problem of patients wearing dental implants. This doesn’t just put their health at risk but also add an unnecessary financial burden.
Robust Dental Industry
Scientists recognize that the bacteria-killing 3D teeth still require a lot of trials and in-depth studies. For instance, it still hasn’t been tested in an actual human mouth, and it didn’t have enough information yet about the effects of regular tooth brushing or exposure to formulations put in the mouth every day, say toothpaste. Still, despite this, it’s a huge step towards more innovations to be expected in 3D printing in dentistry.
In the last years, the technology has evolved from just being used for creating dental crowns to making actual surgical tools. This revolutionizes the way dentists conduct their practices and provide treatments their patients need.