Advances are being made in medicine all the time, including in dentistry. New research has shown that there could be a more effective method of preventing tooth decay. Preventing tooth decay is a daily task. It requires us to take care of our oral health to avoid the buildup of plaque. Occasionally, having your teeth receive a thorough clean from your dentist is necessary too. However, scientists have discovered that we might soon be able to use nanoparticles to help in the fight against tooth decay. The sophisticated technology could assist with removing the stubborn bacteria. Usually, it can resist treatment or hide in awkward places.
Currently, removing the bacteria in dental plaque isn’t always straightforward. It is often resistant to antimicrobial treatment such as antibiotics. The bacteria can hide in a sticky biofilm matrix, which is hard to detect and remove. There may soon be a better way of removing plaque. This is thanks to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
They used a method that used nanoparticles containing iron. The nanoparticles are pH-sensitive and enzyme-like. They can prompt the activation of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as an antiseptic. The free radicals it produced in the study were able to break down the biofilm matrix. At the same time, the bacteria hiding in it could be killed. This method helped to reduce plaque, thereby preventing tooth decay.
The researchers used an animal model to test their treatment idea. Just small amounts of hydrogen peroxide were able to break down the biofilm. The nanoparticles meant that bacteria could be eradicated over 5,000 times more effectively. Before testing it out on a live model, the researchers used a tooth enamel-like surface. They grew a biofilm with the bacteria Streptococcus mutans and added sugar to it on the surface. They showed that the nanoparticles could activate hydrogen peroxide in acidic conditions.
The scientists used a hydrogen peroxide solution of one percent or less. Using these diluted solutions, they were able to show a significant reaction with the nanoparticles. 99.9 percent of the bacteria in the biofilm was eradicated in just five minutes.
The treatment was tested using rats, after introducing the Streptococcus mutans bacteria. The treatments were performed twice a day for just one minute. The nanoparticles were applied topically for 30 seconds. Hydrogen peroxide followed them for 30 seconds. They compared the results to a control (no treatment) and treatment using hydrogen peroxide on its own. Over three weeks the study showed that the method reduced the onset and severity of decay in the rats’ teeth.
This new research could be promising for the future of preventing tooth decay. However, as with any scientific research, there is still work to be done. More studies will need to be carried out to see if these findings can be confirmed. If they are, it could mean that dentists might soon have a more effective way of preventing tooth decay. In the future, bacteria in plaque could be eradicated much more effectively to make healthy teeth more achievable.