New Technique for Applying Drugs to Dental Plaque

09 Apr 2015
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Farnesol is released from the nanoparticle carriers into the cavity-causing dental plaque. Farnesol is released from the nanoparticle carriers into the cavity-causing dental plaque. Graphic by Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester

A group of researchers discovered a new method to deliver antibacterial agents within plaque even with the presence of saliva.

Based on the research from the University of Rochester and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, a method exists to prevent the drugs from being washed away. The information appears in the journal ACS Nano.

The goal of the study was to determine a way to deliver antibacterial agents to the teeth and keep it there while also figuring out how to release the agent to the targeted site. The research team created a nanoparticle carrier, with the outer layer made of positively charged segments of the polymers and the inside layer securing the drug with hydrophobic and pH-responsive polymers.

The positively charged outer layer remains intact because of the enamel, which happens to be negatively charged. Since teeth are immersed in saliva, the researchers weren’t sure if the nanoparticles would adhere. The research team was happy to learn that not only did the nanoparticles adhere, but also were able to bind with the polymeric matrix and stick to the dental plaque.

Based on the fact that the nanoparticles could bind to the saliva-coated teeth within the plaque, the researchers used them to transport the antibacterial agent to the targeted sites. The next objective was to determine how to release the agent into the plaque.

The pH levels happened to work out to the researchers’ benefit, since the nanoparticles release the drug when exposed to cavity-causing eating habits—the specific time when the drugs are most needed to stop the acid-producing bacteria. This happens because plaque becomes acidic when it comes in contact with glucose, sucrose, starch or any other food products that result in decay.

The researchers tested their methods on rats twice daily—similar to using a mouth rinse in the morning and night. The results backed up their research.

Plaque formation and tooth decay are chronic conditions that should be monitored regularly. The researchers hope this information could result in better treatment for dental plaque and tooth decay.

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