Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have developed a 3D printed plastic that is able to destroy 99% of bacteria in the mouth. The innovative plastic is able to destroy practically all germs without causing any harm whatsoever to humans.
The plastic will have a wide range of uses, though researchers are very intrigued by the possibility of printing 3D teeth and braces.
According to their article ‘3D-Printable Antimicrobial Composite Resins’, the team of scientists managed to embed antimicrobial ammonium salts inside existing dental resin polymers (teeth moulds). The salts are positively charged and so disrupt the negatively charged bacterial membranes, meaning bacteria bursts and dies out when making contact with the artificial chompers.
In order to test the plastic’s antimicrobial properties, the scientists covered the 3D printed samples with a mixture of saliva and Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that causes tooth decay. Scientists were taken aback to see 99% of the bacteria was annihilated.
Further tests are also needed to evaluate whether the material would be compatible with other mouth-related products such as toothpastes or retainers.
“The antimicrobial properties were shown to be caused by bacterial contact killing with the material rather than the release of antimicrobial compounds from the resin. Having optimized the activity and stability of these materials, we have a prototype at hand that is suited for further testing in a clinical setting, including not only dental applications but also, for instance, orthopaedic ones like spacers and other polymeric parts used in total hip or knee arthroplasties,” the researchers say.
“To the best of our knowledge, the resins we developed represent the first report of an antimicrobial, contact-killing 3D printable material.”