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An Army of Micro-Robots Can Wipe Out Dental Plaque

Geelsu Hwang and Edward Steager/University of Pennsylvania, April 25, 2019. Science Daily Summarized by: Daniel Greenberg Plaque and biofilm are inherently difficult to remove due to the strength of the biofilm matrix and its ability to resist antimicrobial treatments. The current standard of treatment is manually removing the biofilm, which is both physically demanding to the dentist and uncomfortable for the patient. Additionally, the methods currently employed do not ensure complete elimination of the biofilm and pathogenic bacteria. At the University of Pennsylvania, Hyun Koo of the School of Dental Medicine and Edward Steager of the School of Engineering and Applied Science led a team of dentists, engineers and biologists to develop Catalytic Antimicrobial Robots (CARs) which efficiently kills the bacteria, destroys the matrix conglomeration and removes biodegraded products. Two types of CARs were developed using different platforms of removing plaque. One platform uses iron-oxide nanoparticles in a solution which is directed by magnets to remove biofilms on a tooth surface in a ‘plow- like’ manner. The other platform inserts the nanoparticles into gel molds in 3D shapes which targets and destroys the biofilm. Not only did CARs degrade and eliminate the biofilm from the tooth surface, it also localized biofilm in the isthmus between two root canals, which is notoriously difficult to access manually. CARs is the first step in revolutionizing treatment of dental plaque and biofilm.

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