New York, April 26 : Researchers have developed new drug-filled 3-D printed dentures that can help combat the frequent fungal infections which cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth.
To better treat these infections -- called denture-related stomatitis -- researchers from the University at Buffalo turned to 3-D printers, using the machines to build dentures filled with microscopic capsules that periodically release Amphotericin B -- an antifungal medication.
"The major impact of this innovative 3-D printing system is its potential impact on saving cost and time," said Praveen Arany, Assistant Professor at the University's School of Dental Medicine.
"The antifungal application could prove invaluable among those highly susceptible to infection, such as the elderly, hospitalised or disabled patients," he added.
The new dentures, detailed in the journal Materials Today, are printed with acrylamide, instead of the currently used polymers for denture fabrication.
To examine the release of medication in the printed dentures, the team filled the antifungal agent into biodegradable, permeable microspheres.
The microspheres protect the drug during the heat printing process and allow the release of medication as they gradually degrade.
The results showed that release of the drug was not hindered in the more porous single layer and fungal growth was successfully reduced.
The results could also be applied to various other clinical therapies, including splints, stents, casts and prosthesis.
Future research aims to reinforce the mechanical strength of 3-D printed dentures with glass fibres and carbon nanotubes and focus on denture relining - the readjustment of dentures to maintain proper fit.