London: Scientists have developed coatings for dental implants that can prevent bacterial infection, kill it if it arises, as well as facilitate anchoring to the bone.
Coatings that are capable of preventing bacterial colonisation -- main reason why dental implants fail -- and adhesion around the implant, was long awaited.
The fact is that "about 10 per cent of dental implants have to be removed due to osseointegration problems or to the onset of infections", said Beatriz Palla, researcher at UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Spain.
For the study, the team used sol-gel synthesis, with silica as the precursor -- known to be osteoinductive -- and added various anti-bacterial agents.
Palla developed three types of coatings or various anti-bacterial agents. Each one tackled bacterial infections, either by preventing the bacteria from becoming adhered initially and the subsequent infection, or else by eliminating it once it has developed.
In the case of preventive coatings, the researchers created a material with a very long degradation time so that it would remain adhered to the screw and work for as long as possible, preventing bacteria from becoming adhered.
However, in the coatings designed to eradicate an infection that has already taken hold, they created a rapidly degrading material so that it can release the antibacterial agent as quickly as possible to attack the infection, the researchers explained.
The results showed that "it is possible to confirm that coatings with an anti-bacterial capability and which do not affect the proper integration of the implant into the jawbone have been developed," Palla noted.
However, there is still a long way to go until they can be applied and used at dentists' surgeries, the researchers said, in the paper published in the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids.