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New nanotechnology may provide longer-lasting dental implants

By Dental Tribune International
September 29, 2013

HOUGHTON, Mich., USA: In order to lower the failure rate of dental implants, a team of researchers from the U.S. is currently investigating a new nanomaterial that may help fight bacterial infections after implant placement and improve bone healing around the implant. The researchers believe that their invention could help dental implants last a lifetime.

In collaboration with dental experts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Tolou Shokuhfar, assistant professor at Michigan Technological University's Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics, is currently working on an inexpensive and easy-to-produce dental implant surface made of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanotubes.

She has been researching the use of the nanomaterial for several years and has demonstrated that bone cells growth faster and adhere better to titanium coated with TiO2 nanotubes than to conventional titanium surfaces.

Her research has also shown that nanotubes can be used as a drug delivery system to release naproxen sodium, an anti-inflammatory drug, gradually after surgery, reducing the risk of the unpleasant side effects that arise when drugs are injected orally.

In another study conducted by Shokuhfar involving orthopedic and dental implants, TiO2 nanotubes were laced with silver nanoparticles. Owing to the antimicrobial properties of silver, the material proved to be effective in preventing biofilms, which are increasingly recognized as an important issue in dental health care, as they can cause serious infections, particularly around medical implants.

As the material is transparent, it also holds cosmetic advantages. Furthermore, Shokuhfar expects that TiO2 nanotube implants will be easily accepted on the market because they would have the same appearance as conventional titanium implants. "A surgeon would not have to do anything different," she said.

According to a press release issued by Michigan Technological University, the researchers have received a provisional patent and are currently working with two hospitals to develop the technology further.

The research article, titled "Intercalation of Anti-inflammatory Drug Molecules within TiO2 Nanotubes," was published in the October issue of the RSC Advances journal. The article "Biophysical Evaluation of Osteoblasts on TiO2 Nanotubes" is currently under revision for the Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine journal. The paper "Survivability of TiO2 Nanotubes on the Surface of Bone Screws" has been accepted by the Surface Innovations journal.

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