Penn Dental Medicine’s Geelsu Hwang Engineering a Next-Generation Dental Implant

Philadelphia, April 23, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Each year, approximately 3 million Americans receive dental implants to replace lost teeth. While this technology represents a leap forward in dental care, over time, inflammation and gum disease caused by microbial biofilm or plaque can affect the soft tissue and bone around the implant, causing these tooth replacements to fail. . Now an innovative implant is about to be launched that may one day solve these problems, destroying biofilms through its inherent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The design of this next-generation implant is the work of Dr. Geelsu Hwang of Penn Dental Medicine, who brought a background in engineering and applied it to the study of biofilms and their role in oral health.

“Compared to natural teeth, the lack of a good seal between the implant structure and the surrounding gums means the risk of disease around the implant is quite high,” Huang said.

The new implant he and his collaborators are developing will disrupt biofilms and fight peri-implant infections in two ways:

First, the crown (the artificial tooth on top of the implant structure) will be filled with nanoparticles made from natural antimicrobial compounds. Hwang and his team have been experimenting with the compound barium titanate (BTO).

Second, the base of the crown will contain LEDs that deliver regular doses of light therapy to the surrounding gum tissue, emitting wavelengths of light with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The LED will be powered by piezoelectric materials (such as BTO) in the dental crown, converting the movement of chewing or brushing into electrical energy.

Huang noted that the platform could one day be integrated not only into dental implants but also into other applications, such as joint replacements.

In 2023, the National Institutes of Health awarded Hwang a five-year grant to further advance the development of the implant. The NIH funding will support testing of the new implant technology using laboratory cultures of human gum tissue and eventually testing the implants in minipigs in preparation for human clinical trials.

In related research, he is also working on a new piezoelectric dental composite material for fillings. The material generates an enhanced charge at the interface due to the mechanical pressure of chewing, which itself inhibits bacterial colonization of the composite surface.

Beth Adams
[email protected]

SOURCE Penn Dental Medicine

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