Many denture wearers suffer fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth. To better treat these infections, called denture-related stomatitis, researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB), USA, built 3D-printed dentures filled with microscopic capsules that periodically release an antifungal medication.
A study describing the work, published in Materials Today Communications, found the drug-filled dentures can reduce fungal growth. Unlike current treatment options, they can also help prevent infection while the dentures are in use.
Praveen Arany, the study’s senior author said: “The major impact of this innovative 3D printing system is its potential impact on saving cost and time”.
Applications from this research, he says, could be applied to various other clinical therapies, including splints, stents, casts and prostheses.
To test the strength, researchers used a flexural strength testing machine to bend the dentures and discover their breaking points. Although the flexural strength of the 3D-printed dentures was 35% less than that of the conventional pair, the printed teeth never fractured.
To examine the release of medication in the printed dentures, the team filled the antifungal agent into biodegradable, permeable microspheres. The microspheres protect the drug during the heat printing process, and allow the release of medication as they gradually degrade.
The dentures were tested with one, five and 10 layers of material to learn if additional layers would allow the dentures to hold more medication. The researchers found the sets with five and 10 layers were impermeable and were not effective at dispensing the medication.