US scientists use mild electric current to treat infections from dental implants

October 28, 2019

Dental-implant based fungal infections still persist with sturdy materials – titanium implants, for example, may be strong, light and corrosion-resistant but can lead to nasty infections and subsequent removal of the implant. However, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s (Pitt) Swanson School of Engineering, in the US, suggest that electrifying the titanium may be effective against microbes that cause infection.

It was found that weak electrical currents, applied to colonies of certain harmful microbes though titanium electrodes, damaged the microbes’ protective outer membrane and made them more susceptible to the effects of a medication known as fluconazole. Later, almost all of the microbes were eradicated when the drug was used in conjunction with the electricity, while biological tissue, i.e. the gums, was left unharmed.

While leading scientist on the project, Dr. Tagbo Niepa, said that there are multiple ways to reach the metal implant, such as introducing a needle to create a connection and run the ECT [electrochemical therapy], they next hope to design a non-invasive medical device that will reduce infection in living organisms; aside from dental implants, the technology may even extend to wound dressings.

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