The teeth are strong, really strong. But when problems do arise, they can also be very hard & painful. Toothache, for example, can be a total bummer, causing severe pain and sometimes even fever & headaches, making it difficult to sustain your daily routine.
Fortunately, scientists are developing solutions to these painful dental problems. An artificial enamel that is stronger than real enamel is just one of them. And now, scientists at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), in collaboration with IISc-founded startup Theranautilus, have developed a new tool that can increase root canal treatments success.
The team of scientists has developed a series of nano-sized cleaning robots that can clean hard-to-reach areas in the dentinal tubules & kill bacteria with heat. The helically shaped material is made of iron-coated silicon dioxide, which can be controlled by a device that generates a low-intensity magnetic field, according to the institute’s official statement.
Better way to remove the bacteria
One of the problems with the current method of root canal treatment is that it uses chemicals to kill bacteria. However, antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Enterococcus faecalis can resist attack & remain hidden in microscopic canals called dentinal tubules.
“Dentinal tubules are very small and bacteria reside deep in tissue,” said team member Shanmukh Srinivas. “Current techniques are not efficient enough to go deep inside & kill bacteria.
Previous practices such as using lasers & ultrasound to kill bacteria had their limitations as they could only penetrate about 800 micrometers into the tooth. But new miniaturized robots offer a solution that allows for even deeper cleaning.
The iron coating of the new robots allows them to be controlled by a magnetic field and taken to depths of up to 2,000 micrometers. By penetrating deep into the dentinal tubules, the tool tweaked to generate heat and kill bacteria.
Do the nano-sized robots remain inside?
The answer, in short, is no. The team has discovered that they can retrieve the nanorobots by drawing them out of the tooth once the operation is complete. “No other technology in market can right-now do this,” the team member said Debayan Dasgupta.
Dental nanorobots have been tested in mouse models and found to be safe and effective. Now the team is working on a new medical device that fits inside mouth and allows dentists to inject & operate nanorobots in the tooth during root canal treatment.
“We are on the verge of implementing this technology in a clinical setting that was considered futuristic 3 years ago,” says Ambarish Ghosh, Professor at the Center for Nanoscience and Engineering (CeNSE). “It is a joy to see how a simple scientific curiosity is-shaping into a medical intervention that can affect millions of people in India alone.
The results were published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.