Researchers from Belgium Create Revolutionary Dental Implant That Reduces Infection Risk

Scientists and researchers from Belgium have developed a revolutionary dental implant which uses a slow-release drug system to reduce the risk of infections.

This state of the art system uses a reservoir for the slow release of drugs. It releases a powerful antibacterial compound proven to get rid of bacterial biofilms, which is a major source of dental infections.

The objective of this invention is to reduce infection risk, and so far now, it has shown very promising results.

Researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium published a paper in the journal European Cells & Materials, where they described they designed this new implant and how they tested it.

This revolutionary dental implant is filled with the antibacterial agent by removing the cover screw, as explained by lead author Dr. Kaat De Cremer, from the center of Microbial and Plant Genetics at KU Leuven.

The implant, according to Dr. Kaat De Cremer, is made of porous material, which allows the drugs to slowly travel to the outside of the implant, which is directly connected to bone cells. This prevent bacteria from forming a biofilm, by stopping the action from the root.

This is a very important advancement, because biofilm can be hard to treat, especially when it turns chronic. They also tend to develop resistance to antibiotics, making their treatment even more challenging.

The goal of this invention is to stop its occurrence, something that would bring relief to millions of people who struggle with dental infections due to biofilm. And these mouth infections are the leading cause of dental implant failure.

Researchers have also identified a problem: Implant developers are utilizing materials with rough surfaces, with the end objective of increasing anchorage with bone cells and integrating it better into the bone.

It’s a problem because rough surfaces encourage the formation of biofilm. In order to avoid that, this new implant had to use a completely different model and different materials.

The implant is composed by a diffusion barrier made of silicon and load-bearing porous titanium structure. By using silicon and titanium, the chances of developing biofilm are reduced considerably.

During the tests the implant used a powerful antibacterial substance known as chlorhexidine, which is largely used in several dental care products due to its efficacy.

The tests brought the following results: The dental implant filled with chlorhexidine eliminated biofilms present on the implant before filling the reservoir and also stopped and eliminated Streptococcus mutans, a mouth bacterium known for attacking teeth.

dental implant
Schematic representation of the experimental setup of chlorhexidine release experiments and biofilm prevention using Ti/SiO2 disks or implants.

Researches – based on these tests – confirm that this slow-release dental implant is to key to combat infections and reduce their occurrence, because it has proved that it can eliminate biofilm as well as dangerous mouth bacteria like Streptococcus mutans.

Although the initial tests have proven to be successful, further research and tests are required to prove its efficacy. Lab tests can show promising results, but further research is necessary to attests for its efficacy in real-life treatment with humans.

One of the main problems the new implant needs to address and find a solution for is the risk of calcification blocking up the pores, and therefore, suppressing its mechanism of action. Perhaps another substance could be loaded in the reservoir in conjunction with the main drug in order to prevent calcification, but solely further research will prove the validity of this idea.

Another problem to be addressed is whether the materials used in this special implant will meet the main objectives and mechanical requirements of a normal dental implant. A silicon and titanium implant is something new in concept and be to be properly evaluated.

Researchers also point out that the reservoir can contain different drugs, according to the patient’s needs. Therefore, it opens the possibility for a wide range of personalized treatments. Once further research is done that validates its efficacy, it can be a tool useful for more than preventing and curing infections.

They conclude that this concept could be easily translated to any other percutaneous implant which opens the possibility to integrate a reservoir.

There’s still much to be done, and the team knows it. But for the moment, it seems like a promising invention.