In future, dentists could replace lost teeth with 3D-printed versions that are resistant to bacteria.
The switch to high-tech scanning and 3D printing could remove the hassle from being fitted for a false tooth - a sometimes lengthy process involving plaster casts.
Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have created an antimicrobial plastic that can be used to 3D print teeth, reducing the chance of any further dental damage caused by bacteria.
“The material can kill bacteria on contact, but on the other hand it’s not harmful to human cells,” researcher Andreas Herrmann told New Scientist.
In testing, the material was shown to kill 99% of Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that causes tooth decay.
Further research is needed before the plastic teeth can be used for patients, especially surrounding the impact of toothpaste on the 3D-printed gnashers, as this has not yet been tested.
Researchers will also need to prove that the plastic is strong enough, but they expect that further trials will not take too much time so 3D-printed false teeth could well be a reality in the near future.
Image credit: J. Yue, P. Zhao, J. Y. Gerasimov et al