Dentists use composite materials in order to perform restorative procedures. However, these materials can be vulnerable to plaque, a sticky biofilm and can cause tooth decay.
A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania looked at a new dental material that included an antimicrobial compound that can both resist the growth of biofilm and kill bacteria. Additionally, the material was found to be effective with minimal toxicity to the surrounding tissue. This is because it contains a low dose of the antimicrobial agent that only attacks the bacteria that come into contact with it.
The new material is comprised of a resin embedded with imidazolium, an antibacterial agent. The non-leachable material reduces the likelihood of antimicrobial resistance.
Geeslu Huang, research assistant professor in Penns’ School of Dental Medicine, said, “Dental biomaterials such as these need to achieve two goals: first, they should kill pathogenic microbes effectively, and, second, they need to withstand severe mechanical stress, as happens when we bite and chew.”
Huang went on to explain that many products need mass amounts of antimicrobial agents in order to maximize killing efficacy. In doing this, the mechanical properties can be weakened and become toxic to tissues.
These materials are used for dental procedures such as cavity fillings and dental implants, which about three million people have.
The study, which was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces thoroughly tested the material’s ability to kill microbes, withstand mechanical stress, and prevent the growth of biofilms.
The results showed the material to be effective in killing bacterial cells on contact. Furthermore, it showed an inability for biofilms to grow on its surface. Compared to the control composite material, which showed a steady accumulation of biofilm, the new material showed an insignificant amount of biofilm growth.
After the initial testing, the researchers looked at how much force was needed to remove the biofilm from the materials. They found the smallest force easily removed almost all the biofilm from the experimental material whereas even with a force four times as strong was still unable to remove the biofilm from the control material.