Researchers at the University at Buffalo have developed a method to rapidly 3D print dentures that contain an antifungal drug. The dentures can release the drug slowly over time, helping to combat fungal infections before they happen. The technique could also be useful for creating different drug-releasing medical implants, such as stents and prostheses.
Fungal infections, resulting in inflammation and pain in the mouth, affect nearly two thirds of denture wearers in the US. Current treatments include antiseptic mouthwashes and microwave disinfection of dentures. However, these techniques do not help to prevent infections while the dentures are worn during the day.
To address this issue, the Buffalo research team has developed a way to incorporate an antifungal drug directly into the dentures themselves, and couple it with a rapid production technique – 3D printing. The researchers combined microscopic capsules, containing the antifungal drug Amphotericin B with acrylamide, a go-to material for dentures. The microcapsules protect the drug during the printing process, and allow for slow drug release.
The researchers used a 3D printer to make dentures from a microcapsule/acylamide mixture. “The major impact of this innovative 3-D printing system is its potential impact on saving cost and time,” said Praveen Arany, a researcher involved in the study. “The technology allows clinicians to rapidly create customized dentures chair-side, a vast improvement over conventional manufacturing that can vary from a few days to weeks.”
The resulting dentures are not as strong as conventional dentures, but did not fracture during any of the researchers’ tests. Future research will focus on adding additional materials, such as carbon nanotubes, to increase the strength of the dentures.
“The antifungal application could prove invaluable among those highly susceptible to infection, such as the elderly, hospitalized or disabled patients,” said Arany.
See how the dentures are made in the video below.
Study in Materials Today Communications: Functionalized prosthetic interfaces using 3D printing: Generating infection-neutralizing prosthesis in dentistry