Periodontitis breaks down the tissue and bones that house the teeth, affecting 47.2% of adults age 30 and older in the United States, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. Now, researchers from a group of universities have developed a flexible, biodegradable, and microscopic membrane made from a polymer containing nanoparticles of zinc oxide that covers the gums to halt the advance of bacteria and promote the growth of healthy tissue and bone.
Existing biodegradable designs often struggle with a combination of several challenges: strong but time-controlled adhesion to the gums, bacteria-fighting capability, and the reliable regeneration of essential cells. The researchers found that they could control the degradation rate of their membrane by adjusting the properties of the polymer.
As expected, the membrane’s zinc-oxide nanoparticles succeeded in killing the bacteria that causes periodontitis. The membrane also spurred substantial bone growth when attached to the gums of rats suffering from periodontitis.
Next, the researchers will calibrate the concentration of zinc-oxide nanoparticles to determine which level best balances the membrane’s bacteria-fighting and cell-regenerating properties. The study, “A Multifunctional Polymeric Periodontal Membrane with Osteogenic and Antibacterial Characteristics,” was published in Advanced Functional Materials.