3D printing

Are Antimicrobial Teeth in Our Future?

Bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease, so an antimicrobial tooth would be revolutionary in the field of dentistry. In this article, Dr. Crapo discusses the implications of the breakthrough.

Some exciting news was reported last week in the field of dentistry. Scientists have made a breakthrough with an antimicrobial resin. It’s 3D printable, and for dentists, this means we might soon have an optional compound for replacing teeth: an antimicrobial tooth compound that could fight off damage and decay-causing bacteria all on its own.

When Will We Start Seeing Antimicrobial Teeth?

The discovery of this compound, while significant, doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing it at the dentist’s office any time soon. The resin fights bacteria by embedding positively charged salt in the resin of the new tooth. The salt reacts with negatively charged bacterial membranes, killing them on contact.

However, when it comes to bacteria and human health, dead bacteria aren’t always the best answer. Our digestion relies on bacteria a great deal, and our saliva plays a large part in digesting food before it ever reaches our stomach. A lengthy amount of research will need to be conducted before a technology like this can be widely adopted. Still, the possibilities of such a breakthrough are enough to get you excited.

3D-Printed Teeth Aren’t New

One of the most exciting prospects of this new resin is its compatibility with 3D-printing technology. While this seems like a wonderful innovation, you might be surprised to know that this sort of technology is already being used. In fact, our office uses what is known as a CEREC machine to print 3D teeth for our patients. Getting fitted for tooth implants, printing them out, and installing them can all be done on the same day. Patients love the efficiency of our “teeth-in-a-day” concept.

Dental Hygiene Will Never Lose Priority

Although a breakthrough like this will mean less damage done to tooth implants or fillings in the near future, it’s important to remember that consistent, basic dental hygiene will keep these problems at bay for the majority. Even if we decide to use an antimicrobial tooth for new patients, those patients will need to keep up their commitment to hygiene in order to safeguard their teeth.

Brushing, flossing, and a quick rinse with mouthwash will keep us healthier than can any new space-age material that might be discovered in the future. These are exciting times, but even astronauts need to brush their teeth.