Tougher, healthier dentures coming in 2024

Denture Upper

Stronger, longer-lasting dentures that are cheaper to produce, antimicrobial, and antifungal are set to launch in 2024, thanks to two new biomaterials being developed by a researcher at the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz School of Dental Medicine.

Led by Jeffrey Stansbury, PhD, senior associate dean for research and a professor in the department of craniofacial biology at the university, super strong, resilient, and wear-resistant photopolymers and photocurable polymers that eliminate bacteria have been developed, according to a university story published on February 1.

“We’re upping the performance of the denture teeth and the denture base with multi-material printing,” Stansbury said in the story. “For example, instead of printing a hard tooth and a semi-flexible base, now we can print customized transition zones where the material goes from harder to softer with a graded interface in one piece.”

Part of a $50 million award from the Anschutz Acceleration Initiative Foundation (AAI) is funding the research.

Greater precision, comfort

The photopolymers that have been developed are uniquely suited for 3D inkjet printing, which means these dentures can be made quickly in a single-step process, according to the story.

The technology they’ve used not only produces a stronger denture prosthesis, but it also allows for greater precision and customization that aims to provide more a comfortable custom fit for wearers.

Other advances have included the use of photocurable polymers that inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans (strep), which along with the accumulation of biofilm, is a constant challenge with dentures. The accumulation of bacteria can lead to problems quickly, especially for those who fail to prioritize their oral hygiene. 

What makes these materials special is their “wound-healing character,” Stansbury said.

“They effectively get rid of strep, which is a precursor to a lot of biofilms and other issues we see intraorally, they will also help alleviate those problems,” Stansbury said.

Accessible to vulnerable populations

But how affordable will 3D inkjet-printed dentures really be, especially for vulnerable segments of the U.S. population who lack insurance and access to oral healthcare? Using AAI grant funds, the CU Anschutz School of Dental Medicine will 3D print removable and fixed dentures made with the bioactive materials exclusively for CU Anschutz dental patients.

Furthermore, the school said it will propose tracks through which veterans, seniors, and patients with special healthcare needs can participate in clinical trials to evaluate the prostheses, specifically their effect on wearers’ health and quality of life.

Check it out at Chicago Midwinter

A prototype of these bacteria-busting dentures aren’t years ahead. Stansbury, his company, and dental manufacturer Myerson will launch a new 3D inkjet printer at the Chicago Dental Society 2024 Midwinter Meeting, which is being held February 22-24.

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