Dental Tribune International

Novel technology could improve efficacy of metal-based dental implants

By Dental Tribune International
October 25, 2019

PITTSBURGH, U.S.: Owing to its favorable properties, titanium is widely used in dental implants. However, metal-based implants made of titanium often accumulate microbes on their surfaces, which may lead to chronic infections and inflammation in the surrounding tissue and even result in implant failure. In a new study, researchers have discovered a new way to treat the side effects of metallic implants by utilizing electrochemical therapy (ECT) to enhance the ability of antibiotics to eradicate microbes. The study may help promote the use of electrochemical approaches in the treatment of fungal infections.

In the study, the researchers sought to examine the antifungal properties of ECT against Candida albicans. They passed a low electrical current through a metal-based implant and damaged the attached microbes’ cell membranes without harming the surrounding healthy tissue. Since the ECT caused electrochemical stress in the cells and subsequently increased cell membrane permeability, the microbes became more susceptible to antibiotics.

“We live in a crisis with antibiotics: Most of them are failing. Because of the drug-resistance that most microbes develop, antimicrobials stop working, especially with recurring infections,” said lead author Dr. Tagbo Niepa, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“With this technique, the current doesn’t discriminate as it damages the microbe cell membrane. It’s more likely that antibiotics will be more effective if the cells are simultaneously challenged by the permeabilizing effects of the currents. This would allow even drug-resistant cells to become susceptible to treatment and be eradicated,” he noted.

Although the study was focused on C. albicans and the treatment of infections caused by metal-based implants, the researchers believe that the technology could also help improve wound healing.

The study, titled “Electrochemical strategy for eradicating fluconazole-tolerant Candida albicans using implantable titanium,” was published online on Oct. 11, 2019, in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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