Bacteria-fighting 3D Printed Teeth: the Future of Dental Care?

Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands may have set things in motion to forever change the dental industry. Currently they are working on a 3D printed tooth made of a plastic that can kill bacteria responsible for tooth decay on contact.

Let that sink in a moment.

You could have teeth that stayed perfectly white and avoided all of the problems bacteria accumulation can otherwise cause. Teeth from a printer!

So how exactly did these Dutch researchers make this discovery? Well, it started with finding the right material to craft the teeth. This material happened to be a combination of existing dental resin polymers and antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts. When combined in a 3D printer and hardened with ultraviolet light they produced strong, durable, and life-like teeth that just happened to be excellent bacteria killers. Then the testing began.

In a lab, the researchers covered the tooth in human saliva and exposed it to bacteria that causes tooth decay—and the tooth killed over 99% of the bacteria. Pretty impressive results.

And although this 3D printing experiment is not yet ready for clinical trials, that doesn’t mean people aren’t buzzing about what it means for the future of dentistry. If (or, perhaps, when) 3D printing becomes a feasible tool for the dental world there are countless ways it could be put to use.

For example, during a TED talk, Joseph DeSimone, chief executive of 3D printing company Carbon3D and Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggested that eventually a replacement tooth could be printed for a patient in the office in less than 10 minutes.

The future is here, friends. And it comes with printed teeth.

Read the original article on this innovation here.

Basulto, Dominic (2105, October 20). How bacteria-fighting 3-D-printed teeth could affect dentistry. The Washington Post. Retrieved from