There are two negative aspects of orthodontic treatment: enamel demineralization and heightened bacterial activity in the mouth. The latter of these problems was the focus of many studies and experiments, particularly on the part of Mary Anne Sampaio of the University of Maryland. The way she decided was best to deal with this pressing concern is to change the adhesive she used into one that has antibacterial properties. Here is the story behind it.
The brand spanking new material was unveiled this March at the 43rd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research, or AARD. Ms. Sampaio presented the results of some long standing research she has been heavily involved with into a substance called DMADDM, or quaternary ammonium monomer dimethylaminododecyl methacrylate. The idea is to incorporate this substance into the adhesive without compromising the brackets in any way, as if the bracket cannot exert the necessary force, then there is no way to effectively complete treatment. So the adhesive had to remain strong, and last March it turned out that this is now quite possible.
The substance that she has been researching, DMADDM, is rather useful because it dissolves biofilm. Biofilm is the sticky substance that bacteria create that allows them to survive and also serves as their method of getting around on the surface of teeth. This acidic substance hardens and dries into plaque. DMADDM breaks it up and destroys it, making it impossible for the bacteria to get around, cleaning teeth and repelling bacteria. This mineral was also chosen because it bonds especially well with tooth enamel.
The results she found are absolutely amazing and have surpassed anyone’s wildest dreams, as it turns out that the material, when added to dental adhesives used in orthodontics, did not change the bond strength at all, meaning that the brackets are bonded just as strongly as previously. The really interesting thing is that this new bonding agent slowed down the metabolic reactions within existing biofilm from 78% down to 68%. The living microorganisms in the biofilm reduced in number by 88%. And it doesn’t stop there. Individual bacteria that came into contact with the materials had a 98% mortality rate. This is very good news, and can mark the beginning of a new era in orthodontics, an era free from the associated heightened risks of bacterial infection.