3-D Printed Artificial Teeth Could Stop Bacteria

Take a bite out of dental grime

Lost a tooth? A new 3D-printed replacement might protect against future cavities. Published earlier this month by researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, “3D-Printable Antimicrobial Composite Resins” details a tooth made from materials that kill bacteria on contact. The researchers set out to create a tooth that bacteria wouldn’t destroy, and created a dental guardian.

Here’s how it works. The replacement tooth is designed to match the gap in the person’s mouth. A resin, made of safe materials combined with a special salt, is then printed into the shape of the tooth and then placed like a normal replacement into the person’s mouth. The positive charge in the salts in the resin bursts negatively-charged bacterial membranes, leaving only dead colonies where once were festering feeding frenzies of microbial intruders.

To test the work, they printed objects both with and without the microbial salts, and then put tooth decay-causing Streptococcus mutans on the samples. Without the salts, only about 1 percent of the bacteria on the items died. With the incorporated salts, over 99 percent of colonies vanished.

The authors of the paper are enthusiastic about its success and future uses, writing:

New Scientist

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.