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Receiving dentures doesn’t mean that one’s dental problems are over – far from it. In fact, two thirds of denture wearers in the United States suffer from frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth. This condition is called denture-related stomatitis, and it’s responsible for a great deal of discomfort in sufferers. But a team of researchers at the University at Buffalo are working on a new treatment using 3D printing – a treatment that could prevent the condition from taking hold in the first place.

The researchers 3D printed dentures filled with microscopic capsules that periodically release Amphotericin B, an antifungal medication. A study documenting the work was published in a paper entitled “Functionalized prosthetic interfaces using 3D printing: Generating infection-neutralizing prosthesis in dentistry,” which you can access here. The study showed that the 3D printed, drug-filled dentures can reduce fungal growth and actually prevent infection, unlike current treatments like antiseptic mouthwashes, baking soda and microwave disinfection.

[Image: Douglas Levere]

“The major impact of this innovative 3-D printing system is its potential impact on saving cost and time,” said 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.

Not only does 3D printing allow for the incorporation of medicines, it allows for the rapid chair-side production of customized dentures, which can take days or weeks using conventional methods.

According to Dr. Arany, the research could be applied to other clinical therapies such as splints, casts, stents and prosthetics.

“The antifungal application could prove invaluable among those highly susceptible to infection, such as the elderly, hospitalized or disabled patients,” he said.

The researchers 3D printed the dentures with acrylamide, which is the current go-to material for dentures. The study looked to determine whether the 3D printed dentures were as strong as conventional ones, and if they could effectively release the medication. To test the dentures’ strength, the researchers used a flexural strength testing machine to bend them and test their breaking point. Conventional lab-fabricated dentures were used as a control. Although the 3D printed dentures’ strength was found to be 35 percent less than the conventional ones, they never broke.

The research team placed the antifungal medication into biodegradable, permeable microspheres, which protect the drug during the 3D printing process and allow the release of the medication as they gradually degrade.

The work involved the development of a new type of acrylamide designed to carry antifungal payloads, as well as a 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 see if additional layers would allow them to hold more medication. The sets with five and 10 layers turned out to be impermeable and ineffective at releasing the medication, however, while the porous single layer was perfectly adequate for release.

In the future, the researchers plan to reinforce the strength of the dentures with glass fibers and carbon nanotubes.

Authors of the paper include Malvika Nagrath, Alexander Sikora, Jacob Graca, Jennifer L. Chinnici, Saeed Ur Rahman, Sharaschandra G. Reddy, Sasikumar Ponnusamy, Abhiram Maddi, and Praveen R. Arany.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: University at Buffalo]
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