Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Nanotechnology may improve soft-tissue integration of dental implants

BRISBANE, Australia: Ensuring the formation of a solid soft-tissue seal at the dental abutment surface is crucial for protecting the underlying tissue from the microbial-rich oral environment. In recent years, nanotechnology has been increasingly applied in dentistry. Now, researchers from the University of Queensland have applied titania nanopores (TNPs) to the surface of titanium. The aim of the research is to modify dental implants with nanopores in order to enhance soft-tissue integration and wound healing.

“Poor integration between the implant and the surrounding tissue is one of the leading causes of dental implant failure,” said Dr Karan Gulati, from the university’s school of dentistry, in a press release. “If the sealing between the implant and the surrounding gum tissue fails it can result in bacteria entering the implant and causing infection.”

As a solution to this problem, the research team proposed the fabrication of nanopores⁠—holes of 40–80 nm in diameter—to cover the entire surface of the dental implant abutment. Using electrochemical anodisation, the researchers fabricated mechanically robust TNPs on titanium surfaces. These were compared with clinically relevant titanium controls, and an improved cell viability was observed on the TNPs. According to Gulati, the soft-tissue cells attached well on to the nanopores, resulting in enhanced soft-tissue seal formation.

Dental implant failure represents an economic and health burden in Australia, Gulati stressed. “The failure rate of dental implants is generally 5% to 10%, and for smokers it can be up to 20%,” he said. “Failure is more common in older patients, smokers, people with poor oral hygiene, and those with ongoing health conditions, such as diabetes and osteoporosis,” Gulati explained. Thus, implant failure further increases the financial burden for patients as there are additional expenses on top of the cost of the original implant.

Gulati is hopeful that human trials will begin next year: “We have optimised the protocols and the therapies, now we are ready to turn the research into reality.” Gulati added, “We are currently seeking funding to enable us to purchase additional equipment and recruit staff so that clinical translation can commence.”

The study, titled “Anodized anisotropic titanium surfaces for enhanced guidance of gingival fibroblasts”, was published in the July 2020 issue of Materials Science and Engineering: C.

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