Nanoparticles have been recently developing as a tool to be used in a variety of industries, including the healthcare sector within medicine and dentistry for example. They are defined as small particles that are within 1 to 100 nanometres in size, undetectable by the human eye and can exhibit properties that would not be visible in the same material if it was larger. In making nanoparticles, different particles are combined to make materials lighter, more durable and more reactive. One common use of nanoparticles is in sunscreen to result in UV protection being more effective. However, I will be exploring the use of these nanoparticles within some different areas of dentistry and how they exemplify patient treatment.
One use of nanoparticles is the use of the oral tetracycline antibiotic which is a valuable treatment for periodontitis or gum disease. Periodontitis is characterised by chronic inflammatory gums, bleeding and maybe certain abscesses due to the accumulation of bacteria on teeth and gums. In certain patients, periodontal pockets can occur where there are spaces around the gum line that have become infected. These deep pockets with moisture are a thriving ground for bacteria and can cause serious pain for a patient. Tetracycline along with other treatments is an effective measure to alleviate the symptoms and treat the disease. One method of treatment of tetracycline involves the periodontist inserting and leaving tetracycline fibres within a pocket and this treatment is effective as it kills bacteria in very hard to reach areas. However, as with many medications there are drawbacks and children who receive this medication in the long term can lead to stunted tooth development and yellow teeth.
One field within dentistry involves oral and maxillofacial surgery and involves the treatment of diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face and jaws. In most circumstances, oral cancer treatment involves a multitude of stages involving physical examination, biopsies and further examinations including nasendoscopies and panendoscopies. However, the utilisation of nanoparticles could result in faster and therefore earlier and better treatment. One area within nanotechnology is the use of quantum dots and research has been carried out to present quantum dots to be an exceptional tool in the diagnosis of oral cancer. These quantum dots can be coated with materials that make them attach to specific molecules. In this case, the quantum dots attach to unique proteins on the suspected cancer. Once these dots bind to any cancer cells in the vicinity, an ultraviolet light is shone and the attached quantum dots emit specific wavelengths of light. This method of diagnosis allows for the specific diagnosis of cancer as treatment can now be directed more carefully.
Furthermore, the dental specialty of orthodontics has begun to use nanoparticles as significant research has taken place. This speciality addresses the diagnosis, prevention and correction of misaligned teeth and jaws. With up to 45% of the population undergoing orthodontic treatment, using nanoparticles to aid this treatment to ensure better results will give patient satisfaction to a large majority of patients. Within orthodontics, specific tools involve brackets and wires and nanoparticles can make these tools better suited to their purpose. Orthodontic brackets are small attachments secured to a tooth to then attach to an arch wire which will slowly bring the teeth and jaw in a desirable position. One nanoparticle used in brackets are mono crystal alumina brackets which offer aesthetic qualities as well as high strength. It is vital these brackets stay within the patient as they provide tension alongside the wire to bring teeth into position over a long period of time. High strength ensures the bracket does not break during treatment and provides a strong structural support before the tight wire is fitted. Furthermore, if brackets are made out of mono crystal alumina, this material is almost clear allowing for greater aesthetic quality. Many patients are self-conscious about their appearance due to braces but with almost clear brackets, they will have more confidence in their appearance while they are undergoing the treatment. At the same time, instead of alumina, polycrystalline zirconia brackets may also be utilised which provide the greatest toughness but are very opaque and exhibit bold colours. Therefore, there is a balance between which material should be used.
Overall, nanoparticles in dentistry can be utilised and developed in a multitude of ways of which I have only covered a few. With the development within this sector still growing, patient care and satisfaction should increase. Perhaps in the future with a variety of materials available, patients will be able to make their own choice in their methods of diagnosis and treatment. This makes their treatment much more personalised to them.
Arya Bhatt, Youth Medical Journal 2022
Barot, T., Rawtani, D. and Kulkarni, P. (2021). Nanotechnology-based materials as emerging trends for dental applications. [online] De Gruyter. Available at: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/rams-2020-0052/html?lang=en.
Kanaparthy, R. and Kanaparthy, A. (2011). The changing face of dentistry: nanotechnology. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 6, pp.2799–2804.
ROOTDFW. (2022). Tetracycline. [online] Available at: https://www.rootdfw.com/periodontal-treatment-and-diagnosis-tetracycline/
Zakrzewski, W., Dobrzynski, M., Dobrzynski, W., Zawadzka-Knefel, A., Janecki, M., Kurek, K., Lubojanski, A., Szymonowicz, M., Rybak, Z. and Wiglusz, R.J. (2021). Nanomaterials Application in Orthodontics. Nanomaterials, [online] 11(2), p.337. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7912679/