Spain's University of Basque Country is creating coatings for dental implants that have shown antibacterial properties that may prevent infections and extend implant life.
"About 10 percent of implants have to be removed due to osseointegration problems or the onset of infections," according to Beatriz Palla, researcher from the University of Basque Country's Biomaterials Group.
Antibacterial coatings for these implants are a surprising challenge, considering the resistance that bacterial strains develop to antibacteraial therapies. The research team used sol-gel synthesis, which is based on a precursor solution that, when left alone, turns into a gel that can be put onto the implant when exposted to high temperature and then screwed on.
"We used silica as the precursor, because in many studies this compound has been shown to be osteoinductive, so it facilitates one of the objectives we wanted to achieve," said Palla. "What is more, to provide the materials with antibacterial characteristics, we added various antibacterial agents."
Palla created three different types of coatings, each having a different mechanism to fend off bacterial infections. Palla believes that "it is possible to confirm that coatings with an antibacterial capability and which do not affect the proper integration of the implant into the jawbone have been developed."