Natural teeth and dental implants alike can suffer from plaque buildup. Plaque mostly sticks to the crown of the implant, but it also adheres to the exposed parts of the screw that holds the dental fixture in place. These parts are difficult to clean because they have microgrooves that make them fit better into the jawbone. And without effective cleaning, inflammation and other complications may follow.
Hitoshi Soyama, PhD, of Tohoku University and his team at Showa University in Japan have explored better ways for dentists to remove this plaque. They wanted to study the efficiency of a cavitating jet, where a nozzle injects high-speed fluid through water to create very tiny vapor bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, they produce strong shockwaves that can remove contaminants.
The researchers compared the cavitating jet’s cleaning effect to a water jet, which typically has been used to remove plaque from dental implants to keep them clean. They grew a biofilm over three days in the mouths of four volunteers. Next, they cleaned the biofilm with the two different methods, measuring the amount of plaque remaining at several time intervals.
There was little difference between the amounts of dental plaque removed by both methods after one minute of cleaning. After three minutes, though, the cavitating jet had removed about a third more plaque than the water jet, leaving little plaque stuck to the implant at the end of the experiment. The cavitating jet also was able to remove the plaque from the root section of the screws and the harder to reach section, though to a lesser extent.
“Conventional methods cannot clean plaques on the surface of dental implants very well, so this new method could give dentists a new tool to better manage these fixtures, which are becoming more common,” said Soyama.
Water flow exerts shear stress to remove biofilm. In addition to this effect, the cavitating jet produces considerable force when the bubbles collapse that can remove particles from the biofilm and carry them away. The researchers suggest that the two processes probably work in synergy to make the cavitating jet superior to the water jet when cleaning plaque off the irregular surface of dental implants.
The study, “Removal of Oral Biofilm on an Implant Fixture by a Cavitating Jet,” was published by Implant Dentistry.
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