Dental fillings are possibly a suggestion every individual dislikes hearing. They’re not exactly stressful but the hassle is more than enough to make anyone frown about hearing them. But since fillings are essential for your dental health, anyone whose dentist tells them they have to get fillings has to go through them anyway because they had no other choice. Until now. Dental fillings might just have gotten a rival, thanks to the concept of 3D printing.

A new idea (a tested and experimented one, so it’s not just a theory) has come forth in the world of 3D printing: 3D printed antimicrobial teeth. A group of researchers in Netherlands came up with and managed to actually create a 3D printed tooth implant, constructed out of antimicrobial resin – and it can kill bacteria. Thus, not only is this tooth a replacement but a better one as it can kill harmful bacteria to clean itself. The tooth uses antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts, positively charged, which is why it can effectively kill harmful bacteria (i.e. bacteria with negatively charged membranes). But don’t worry, the tooth only works to kill bacteria and does not harm human cells.

The effectiveness of the antimicrobial material was tested by coating sample pieces of it in saliva and a type of bacteria (Streptococcus mutans, widely known to contribute to tooth decay). 99% of the bacteria was killed by the material, whereas samples without the antimicrobial material had 99% of the bacteria still remaining.

This newly touched upon concept of using antimicrobial salts could very well be a revolutionary change in the dentistry industry. Such a tooth that is so powerful in killing bacteria and subsequently helping maintain good oral health can be used on vast scale, especially seeing the rise in tooth decay. The researchers also have other plans for their prototype. They say that such a concept of 3D printed antimicrobial polymers is not just applicable to dentistry but can also be used in other ways, such as using it for orthopedic means or even non-health uses, like toys, food packaging, etc. They even have plans to try the material with toothpaste, for obvious reasons.

Whatever concludes of this study, it is bound to make a good change and the evidence, theory, and practical applications of it seem viable. In a short time, we may see fillings being replaced with 3D printed antimicrobial teeth and it would be a great alternative to have.