Implant fights infections

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at KU Leuven (the University of Leuven), in Belgium, has developed a new dental implant that reduces the risk of infections.

The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Oral Implantology.

Our mouth contains many micro-organisms, including bacterial and fungal pathogens. On traditional dental implants, these pathogens can quickly form a so-called biofilm, which is resistant to antimicrobial drugs like antibiotics. Consequently, these implants come with a significant risk of infections that may be difficult to treat.

The new implant is different in that it has a built-in reservoir underneath the crown of the tooth, explains lead author of the study Kaat De Cremer.

“A cover screw makes it easy to fill this reservoir with antimicrobial drugs,” he said. “The implant is made of a porous composite material, so that the drugs gradually diffuse from the reservoir to the outside of the implant, which is in direct contact with the bone cells. As a result, the bacteria can no longer form a biofilm.”

In the lab, the implant was subjected to various tests for use with chlorhexidine, a universal mouthwash with a powerful antimicrobial effect.

The study showed that the Streptococcus mutans, a type of mouth bacteria that affect the teeth, can no longer form biofilms on the outside of the implant when the reservoir is filled with the mouthwash. Biofilms that were grown beforehand on the implant could be eliminated in the same way.

This indicates the implant is effective in terms of both preventing and curing infections.

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