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Researchers Examine Antimicrobial Coating to Promote Implant Longevity


While implant therapy enjoys a high rate of success, the risk of failure — most often due to peri-implant disease — remains. For this reason, researchers from the University of Leeds School of Dentistry in England are researching ways to ensure implant longevity. As a potential solution, the team is studying a coating designed to protect against infection and resultant bone loss using hydrothermal synthesis.

This is a process that relies on the growth of materials from water-based solutions at elevated temperatures and high pressures — and in one short step. As it turns out, the dental autoclave provides an ideal conduit for hydrothermal synthesis. Researchers used this process first to create hydroxyapatite crystals — chosen for their biocompatibility and chemical similarities to human bone — which were used in the coating to encourage bonding with bone. Hydroxyapatite demonstrated a risk of dissolution and debonding, however, which may negatively affect the long-term viability of implants. For this reason, researchers turned to fluorapatite, which is similar but demonstrates higher predictability of stability.

The team determined that 10 hours of hydrothermal synthesis was the ideal time for creating fluorapatite crystals that demonstrated enhanced bone regeneration and stem cell differentiation. Furthermore, they found that the coating not only promoted bone regeneration, but also offered antimicrobial properties. The role of fluorapatite is under additional investigation to determine the reproducibility and coherence of the coating on dental implant substrates.

Using hydrothermal synthesis by way of autoclave for such implant coatings, the researchers concluded, may eliminate costly and timely steps in the traditional fluorapatite crystal formation process — and, as a result, dramatically reduce associated costs.

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