Collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Indiana have tested a “nanozyme” system designed to reduce dental plaque. The technology consists of iron oxide nanoparticles that are applied to the tooth enamel before a follow-up rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Nanoparticles act as an “enzyme” to activate hydrogen peroxide, generating reactive oxygen species and killing bacteria that cause tooth decay. Surprisingly, the formulation also contains a marker that turns blue in the presence of reactive oxygen species, highlighting the plaque areas being treated. The technology could act as an additional dental hygiene technique.
Our mouths have an almost ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Hot and humid, with regular exposure to sugary foods, the oral environment promotes bacterial growth and biofilm formation. In the context of teeth, biofilms are better known as plaque, and regular brushing is a safe way to remove it. However, for some patients, plaque can build up very quickly and additional techniques are required to combat it.
One such condition is iron deficiency anemia, which is related to severe dental caries. Coincidentally, iron nanoparticles investigated by these researchers are an FDA-approved treatment for iron deficiency anemia, and this latest research shows that they can also help with the dental consequences of this condition.
This study included volunteers wearing a denture-like device that contained real tooth enamel. Volunteers regularly applied a sugar solution to their teeth, mimicking the sugary snacks many of us like to consume. They did not brush the prostheses, but applied the nanoparticle / hydrogen peroxide combination twice a day. Treatment reduced biofilm formation caused by bacteria such as S. mutans, without adversely affecting other microbial populations in the mouth or causing adverse effects.
“We have found that this approach is both accurate and effective,” said Hyun Koo, a researcher involved in the study, in a UPenn ad. “It alters biofilms, especially those formed by Streptococcus mutans, which cause caries, and also reduced the extent of enamel caries. This is the first study we know of in a clinical setting that demonstrates the therapeutic value of nanozymes against an infectious disease “.
Study a Nano letters: Ferumoxytol nanoparticles target biofilms that cause caries in the human mouth