Visits to the dentist are usually time-consuming and unpleasant, especially when it comes to plaque removal via scraping and scratching mechanical tools. However, a group of engineers, dentists, and biologists from the University of Pennsylvania have just invented a ground-breaking technique to remove dental plaque.
The scientists have designed a micro-robotic army which can be successfully deployed and controlled to destroy the plaque buildup between the teeth and gums.
The Research Process
The research, “Catalytic Antimicrobial Robots for Biofilm Eradication” was published in Science Robotics, and was led by Hyun (Michel) Koo of Penn Dental Medicine and Edward Steager of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Biofilms are very tough to remove from a surface because of their chemical composition. The sticky matrix holding the bacteria protects from antimicrobial agents.
In the past, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to develop chemicals that will make it comparatively easier to eliminate these type of deposits. However, the micro-robots designed by the scientists can destroy the biofilm matrix by operating catalytically on the material with the support of nanoparticles that contain iron-oxide. The particles then energize hydrogen peroxide to release free radicals that can crush bacterial biofilms.
According to scientists, multiple biomedical fields face the issue of microbial deposits in inaccessible places. This problem is further enhanced when the action has to be taken on human teeth because it requires more precision and manual labor at the same time. Scientists have developed two separate robotic systems for entirely different roles. One of them operates on open surfaces, whereas the other method is designed mainly to work inside closed spaces.
Scope of Application
The researchers showcased that robots with catalytic activity can destroy biofilms and sticky deposits of bacteria. These types of robotic biofilm removal systems could be valuable in a wide range of potential applications. From cleaning water pipes and catheters to minimizing the risk of tooth decay, endodontic infections, and implant infections, the biofilm removal systems can work remarkably well.