Drug-filled, 3D printed dentures could fight off infections

Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. denture-wearing population suffer frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth. To better treat these infections, called denture-related stomatitis, University at Buffalo researchers have turned to 3D printers, using the machines to build dentures filled with microscopic capsules that periodically release Amphotericin B, an antifungal medication.

Photo
The dentures, developed at the University at Buffalo, are printed using acrylamide, the current go-to material for denture fabrication.
Source: Douglas Levere

A study describing the work, recently published in Materials Today Communications, found that the drug-filled dentures can reduce fungal growth. Unlike current treatment options, such as antiseptic mouthwashes, baking soda and microwave disinfection, the new development can also help prevent infection while the dentures are in use. “The major impact of this innovative 3D printing system is its potential impact on saving cost and time,” says Praveen Arany, DDS, PhD, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor in the Department of Oral Biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine.

The technology allows clinicians to rapidly create customized dentures chair-side, a vast improvement over conventional manufacturing that can vary from a few days to weeks, says Arany, who also has an appointment in UB’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Applications from this research, says Arany, could be applied to various other clinical therapies, including splints, stents, casts and prosthesis. “The antifungal application could prove invaluable among those highly susceptible to infection, such as the elderly, hospitalized or disabled patients,” he says.

The dental biomaterials market – worth more than $66 billion in 2015 – is expected to grow 14 percent by 2020. A large part of the industry is focused on dental polymers, particularly the fabrication of dentures.

UB researchers printed their dentures with acrylamide, the current go-to material for denture fabrication. The study sought to determine if these dentures maintained the strength of conventional dentures and if the material could effectively release antifungal medication. To test the strength of the teeth, researchers used a flexural strength testing machine to bend the dentures and discover their breaking points. A conventional lab-fabricated denture was used as a control. Although the flexural strength of the 3D printed dentures was 35 percent less than that of the conventional pair, the printed teeth never fractured. To examine the release of medication in the printed dentures, the team filled the antifungal agent into biodegradable, permeable microspheres. The microspheres protect the drug during the heat printing process, and allow the release of medication as they gradually degrade.

The investigation involved the development of an innovative form of acrylamide designed to carry antifungal payloads, and a novel syringe pump system to combine the dental polymer and microspheres during the printing process. The dentures were tested with one, five and 10 layers of material to learn if additional layers would allow the dentures to hold more medication. The researchers found the sets with five and 10 layers were impermeable and were not effective at dispensing the medication. Release was not hindered in the more porous single layer, and fungal growth was successfully reduced.

Future research aims to reinforce the mechanical strength of 3D printed dentures with glass fibers and carbon nanotubes, and focus on denture relining – the readjustment of dentures to maintain proper fit.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Lab engineers 3D functional bone tissues

Lab engineers 3D functional bone tissues

Researchers have developed a printable bioink that could be used to create anatomical-scale functional tissues.

A novel swab design to augment COVID-19 testing

A novel swab design to augment COVID-19 testing

Scientists have developed a novel test swab that can be 3D printed using inexpensive, widely available materials and speedily assembled in a range of fabrication settings.

A 3D-printed diffuser to treat COVID-19 patients

A 3D-printed diffuser to treat COVID-19 patients

Scientists have delivered more than 200 3D-printed diffusers for metered dose inhalers (MDI) to the Houston hospital and stands ready to produce more if needed.

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

A researcher provides caution on the use of 3D printing to make masks and other PPE for individuals on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis.

Imaging technique to study 3D printed brain tumors

Imaging technique to study 3D printed brain tumors

Researchers demonstrated a methodology that combines the bioprinting and imaging of glioblastoma cells in a way that more closely models what happens inside the human body.

3D printed biomaterial enables forming of blood vessels

3D printed biomaterial enables forming of blood vessels

An international team of scientists have discovered a new material that can be 3D printed to create tissue-like vascular structures. In a new study, researchers have developed a way to 3D print graphene oxide with a protein which can organise into tubular structures that replicate some properties of vascular tissue.

Handheld 3D printers help to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Handheld 3D printers help to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Biomedical engineers developed a handheld 3D bioprinter that could revolutionize the way musculoskeletal surgical procedures are performed.

Neural cells speed up function in bioprinted skeletal muscle constructs

Neural cells speed up function in bioprinted skeletal muscle constructs

Scientists have improved upon the bioprinting technique they developed to engineer skeletal muscle as a potential therapy for replacing diseased or damaged muscle tissue.

Transparent human organs allow 3D maps at the cellular level

Transparent human organs allow 3D maps at the cellular level

For the first time, researchers managed to make intact human organs transparent. Using microscopic imaging they could revealed underlying complex structures of the see-through organs at the cellular level.

Popular articles