ANTIBACTERIAL POLYMERIC MATERIALS - AN ALTERNATIVE FOR TOOTHBRUSHES?
Tooth brushing - an important hygienic procedure, without which it is difficult to imagine life, as we all want to maintain healthy and strong teeth as long as possible. Although most dentists claim that toothpaste is not a panacea and often use instead of being useful it brings a lot of harm. So, for example, such fluoride toothpaste is not adapted to all age groups and regions of residence, but the content of fluoride in drinking water is different everywhere. We forget that we cannot use whitening toothpaste longer than 6 months, because the abrasive elements they contain can cause irreparable damage to the tooth enamel. There are hazardous ingredients in the paste, which reduce inflammation of the gums. These aggressive antiseptics upset the balance of microflora in the mouth and can cause fungal diseases. Therefore, examining the range of toothpastes in supermarkets, experts are inclined to believe that they do not contain prophylactic elements.
The problem of tooth decay has always existed, but the cornerstone was, oddly enough, the widespread use of sugar in food. It is the excessive consumption of carbohydrates and the careless brushing is now associated with the development of caries. Leftover food is a favorite breeding place for Streptococcus mutans. The bacterium ferments carbohydrates that we eat, to organic acids. It causes demineralization of enamel, which leads to tooth decay. Regular tooth brushing may deprive microbes from food substrate, but it cannot deliver from the bacteria itself.
Therefore, scientists have changed the strategy and decided to fight the bacteria in other ways. When manufacturing fillings, crowns, dentures, implants and braces, scientists are planning to add to the conventional dental materials a quaternary ammonium salt. The principle of operation is quite simple: ammonium salts are positively charged particles, which in interaction, damage the wall of the negatively charged bacteria, from which it dies.
This technology is quite promising in orthodontics. Mechanical cleaning of teeth under braces is significantly impeded; it leads to the growth of bacteria in hard to reach places. Creating ceramic brackets and braces with an ammonium salt will prevent this process.
In the Netherlands, with the aid of a 3-D printer, scientists have created teeth of polymers which have antibacterial properties. In contact with their surface, the microbes die and oral mucosa remains intact. In the experiment, scientists placed saliva with streptococci on the surface of the created teeth. After 6 days, they compared the surface swabs of antibacterial teeth and of the conventional plastic teeth. It was found that on the surface of the new material 99% of the bacteria were killed, whereas on a conventional material only 1%.
Scientists believe that this technology with ammonium salts will have good prospects in other areas of medicine, such as surgery or urology.
Although the technique has not been tested in patients, clinical studies are continuing. It is not known what will happen to the bacteria - saprophytes and how the material will act on the body in general. Many questions remain unanswered. It is quite possible that once mankind will put an end to the fight against tooth decay.
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