dental plaqueAbout a million Americans deal with problems associated with dental plaque each year. Since our mouth is warm and moist, it contains plenty of nutrients that help microorganisms, known as dental plaque, to grow in it. Dental plaque appears in the form of a pale-yellow thick layer. If it is not removed at the right time, it continues to build up and the result could be numerous oral health issues including cavities, unhealthy gums, bad breath, periodontitis, gingivitis, tooth loss and more.

Nanoparticles As A Weapon Against Dental Plaque

A new study that was conducted by Hyun (Michel) Koo and David Cormode and published in Nature Communications has shown results that nanoparticles can be effective at reducing plaque.

As per this study, these FDA-approved nanoparticles use a pH-activated mechanism for the purpose of breaking dental plaque apart. The researchers believe that these nanoparticles have an enzyme-like property and they produce a targeted effect because their catalytic activity is enhanced when it is at an acidic pH level; however, it remains deactivated when at neutral pH conditions. Nanoparticles activate hydrogen peroxide, which results in the generation of free radicals. These radicals have the tendency to kill acidic biofilm (dental plaque).

Nanoparticles in Toothpaste

Hyun Koo believes that nanoparticles can be added to toothpaste to effectively treat dental plaque as nanoparticles are generally inexpensive and it wouldn’t affect the price of toothpaste a great deal. He further believes that most of the toothpastes available on the market already have hydrogen peroxide in them. Thus, all they require is the addition of a small quantity of nanoparticles and the issue of dental plaque could be tackled effectively and inexpensively.

Safety Concerns

Concerns have been raised whether the nanoparticles will damage the surrounding oral tissues or not. As per this study, the catalytic activity of nanoparticles gets activated if the acidic level is high. Since the plaque is generally considered to be highly acidic, the catalytic activity of nanoparticles is accelerated only in the event there is a dental plaque. Hence, it is safe to say nanoparticles do not cause any sort of damage to other oral tissues. There have been experiments conducted and no evidence of any tissue damage has been found after the use of this therapy. Hyun Koo states that it doesn’t go about killing all the microorganisms that grow in our mouth due to nutrients. It acts only at the places where dental plaque develops.

A number of plaque samples were used to conduct this study by the researchers. The results showed that the use of nanoparticles, apart from reducing the dental plaque, can also help to strengthen the surface of teeth. Mineral destruction at the surface our teeth weakens them; however, nanoparticles can prevent this phenomenon from happening.