Researchers from the University of Rochester and University of Pennsylvania have designed drug-releasing nanoparticles to protect the teeth from bacterial damage and decay.
The nano particles have a positively charged outer segment that binds negatively charged sites on plaque biofilms and tooth enamel. This anchors the particles in place. The core is hydrophobic and is loaded with farnesol, a hydrophobic antibacterial drug and releases the drug more quickly in acidic environments. The cariogenic bacteria begin to take over the teeth and form biofilms, which bring down the pH of 4.5-5.5.
Clinical trials done to test the effectiveness of the nanoparticles showed that head-to-head in a topical application, the drug-loaded nanoparticles were four times more powerful in destroying the bugs (Streptococcus mutans, in this study) than the free drug alone.
The nanoparticles were able to adhere and deliver the drug in a controlled-release fashion, targeting sites of bacterial growth (biofilms). Once the safety of the technology is proved, these particles can be used in things like toothpaste or mouthwash to keep the teeth free of dental caries and prevent a painful trip to the dentist's office.