3D-printed teeth that clean themselves

A team of researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have come up with a way to 3D-print teeth that are not only sparkling white but also clean themselves.

Andreas Herrmann of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues have developed an antimicrobial resin, allowing them to 3D-print teeth that also kill bacteria.

The resin is created by combining antibacterial ammonium salts with standard dental resins which are then hardened using ultraviolet light and put inside a 3D-printer to print the teeth. The teeth were printed using a Formlabs Form 1 3D-printer and a process called stereolithography.

The salts are positively charged and so they disrupt the negatively charged bacterial membranes, causing them to burst and die.

The researchers put their 3D-printed dentures to the test, with and without antimicrobial properties then added tooth decay-causing bacteria on the samples. More than 99 percent of the bacteria died on the treated teeth, while only about 1 percent were killed on the untreated ones.

Hermann says they’re working on their compatibility with different kinds of tooth-pastes and how the polymer holds up over time.

This could prove to be very handy for oral hygiene in India considering that 95 percent of the population in India suffers from gum disease, only 50 percent use a toothbrush and just 2 percent of the population visit the dentist according to statistics.

The research is published in Advanced Functional Materials.

Joseph DeSimone of the 3D-printing company Carbon3D speaks on the possibility of while-you-wait tooth printing.