While clear, plastic aligners have grown in popularity as alternatives to bulky, metal braces, these appliances can become easily contaminated. A new study now reports in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces development of a film to prevent bacteria from growing on them.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, more than 5 million people seek orthodontic treatments each year. These procedures include braces and aligners, a set of plastic pieces that shift the teeth slightly over time, in an attempt to fix crowded jaws, over- and under-bites and improperly aligned teeth. Clear aligners or retainers, known collectively as clear overlay appliances (COAs) are made by taking a dental cast and using pressure or heat on a plastic sheet. But bacteria frequently build up on COAs as difficult-to-treat biofilms, and the plastics easily wear down. Scientists have turned to developing simple and affordable coatings to combat this. Drawing inspiration from super-hydrophilic antibacterial coatings on other medical devices, Hyo-Won Ahn, Jinkee Hong and colleagues wanted to see if they could make something similar for COAs in the unique oral environment.