Medicine Infused 3-D Printed Dentures Fight Infections

University of Buffalo researchers have created 3-D printed dentures that release Amphotericin B. The antibiotic is used in the treatment of fungal infections.

A study recently published in Materials Today Communications reveals that University of Buffalo (UB) researchers have invented 3-D printed dentures that can fight denture-related fungal infections. To achieve this, the scientists filled the prosthetic devices with microscopic Amphotericin B-releasing capsules.

Antifungal application

Amphotericin B is a polyene antifungal antibiotic commonly used in the treatment of denture-related stomatitis. Incorporating the antibiotic in dentures can help deter and treat fungal infections.

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

Arany's team had to run several experiments before settling on their final denture model. First, the 3-D dentures were printed with acrylamide and tested using a flexural strength testing machine.

The machine bent the dentures in order to establish the new dentures' potential breaking points. The researchers were pleasantly surprised to discover that despite the flexural strength of 3-D printed dentures being 35% less than that of conventional ones, the printed ones did not fracture.

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The team then tested the release of medication process in the printed dentures by filling biodegradable permeable microspheres with Amphotericin B. The dentures were tested with one, five and 10 layers of material but only the single layer was porous enough to allow for the medication's release.

3-D printed prostheses

In the end, the new dentures proved overall effective. Arany told Digital Trends that his work “has effectively repurposed routine prosthetic material, methyl methacrylate, for 3D printing.”

This opens many new doors for the material commonly used in clinical prosthetics including dentures and artificial joints. The material can also be used in the 3-D printing of other clinical therapies such as splints, stents, casts and a variety of prostheses.

The 3-D printing system also ensures that customized dentures can now be readily available as opposed to the days or weeks waiting period required for conventional manufacturing. These once expensive and time-consuming devices formerly produced only in laboratories can now be made in clinics cheaper and faster. 

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“In followup work, we have been able to address the mechanical strength issue and can now fabricate clinically acceptable prosthesis with properties comparable to the routinely manufactured prosthesis,” Arany added. “Ongoing work is adding significant novel functionalities to enable ‘smart’ — sense and respond — attributes.”

Earlier this month, the Renishaw Healthcare Centre for Excellence partnered with Cardiff University Dental Hospital to work on the 3-D printing of CoCr removable partial dentures. Last week, an associate professor of clinical dentistry at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California unveiled his research in "creating 3-D partial and complete dentures, which are more precise, comfortable and faster to make than traditional dentures."

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