Teeth sometimes can be so misaligned, collagen fibers under the gums need to be cut before braces can be employed to straighten them. However, patients may avoid the procedure because it’s invasive and can be painful. A team of Israeli researchers, though, has developed nanoparticles that may reduce both the pain and recovery time of this treatment.
Liposomes, which are empty nanoscale vesicles, have shown some success in drug delivery. Collagenase enzymes could potentially remodel the fibers that connect teeth to bone in the mouth without using a scalpel, but so far, delivering these enzymes with liposomes has been challenging.
The researchers developed liposomal nanoparticles that contain collagenase and tested them in rats. When the liposomes were placed under the gums, the collagenase diffused out of the particles and was activated by calcium naturally formed in the mouth. The collagenase weakened the collagen fibers, making it easier to shift the teeth afterward with braces.
Compared to conventional surgery, the collagenase treatment helped move the teeth 3 times faster. All of the rats lost some weight after the surgery, just as humans typically do. But unlike other rats, the ones treated with collagenase quickly rebounded to their normal healthy weight, which the researchers say suggests they weren’t in pain.
The study, “Proteolytic Nanoparticles Replace a Surgical Blade by Controllably Remodeling the Oral Connective Tissue,” was published by ACS Nano.