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Nanotechnology is employed in pioneering research project in dentistry

Solutions, toothpastes and adhesives with drug loaded nanocapsules, such as anti-inflammatories, offer alternatives for treatment against dental caries and other inflammations
Nanotechnology is employed in pioneering research project in dentistry

Doctoral Student Marla Cuppini is working on the research, which is already in the final stages of testing - Photo: Rochele Zandavalli/UFRGS

Bruna Genari, professor at UDF (Federal District University Center), developed in her Doctorate research, presented at UFRGS Post-Graduation Program in Dentistry, an adhesive with anti-inflammatory (indomethacin) and anti-inflammatory with antibiotic loaded nanocapsules. This is a pioneering research in the ​​dentistry area and supplies a demand for materials that overcome the limitations of existing ones. The adhesive is placed in the bottom of the cavity of a tooth when there is decay, fracture or loss of structure. It lies between the material that restores the tooth, which repairs the damaged and the living tissue areas, for example. "Nowadays, restorations are made with composite resin, which needs an adhesive system to adhere to the tooth. This adhesive has a very similar composition to that of the resin. However, besides having no therapeutic action, depending on the material, the adhesive can even cause an aggression to the dental pulp,” says the researcher. With the objective to create a therapeutic effect, Genari inserted controlled-release nanoencapsulated drugs in this adhesive system. "The idea is to bring an alternative treatment to deep cavities, which normally requires an expensive canal treatment. It also makes use of a material which promotes therapeutic action that allows for a more conservative treatment," says the dentist.

Susana Samuel, a Faculty of Dentistry professor at UFRGS and project supervisor, points out that when the adhesive with nanocapsules is close to the living structure, it releases the drugs continuously. "It does a regeneration, a restoration of the underlying tissue. Due to technology developed at the Faculty of Pharmacy we can apply this method that enables us to use drug loaded nanocapsules, with slow and controlled release, to dentistry. It is something unprecedented in dentistry,” says Samuel.

The research is now being conducted by doctoral student Marla Cuppini, who has replaced the adhesive with different materials, such as toothpastes and solutions, but it is the same technology. In this new phase of the research different materials are being tested, such as pastes and solutions, instead of the adhesive, although these materials make use of the same technology. “In the adhesive Bruna used indomethacin, which is an anti-inflammatory, to relieve the pulp after a restorative procedure. In our study, on the other hand, we treated root canals and applied this intracanal medication. It is a continuation of her work; however it is not in the adhesive. While her work is part of restorative dentistry, mine is related to endodontology, which is when the work is done inside the root canal, when there is inflammation." Cuppini explains.

Nanoencapsulation allows the drugs to be released in a controlled, continuous and slow manner. This technology has been developed for several other types of drugs by Sílvia Guterres and Adriana Pohlmann, UFRGS professors at the Faculty of Pharmacy and the Institute of Chemistry respectively, through partnership between these two departments. "This is really nanotechnology insight for encapsulation: to be able to slow down the release of the active agents, such as the drugs," Cuppini says. To get an idea of how small they are, these particles are 60 thousand times smaller than a strand of human hair. "And yet, within that small particle there are the drugs which are slowly released. Thus, if a tooth is in a process of inflammatory, as that material is released, it gives time for the tissue to restore and heal it. That is the idea of this research," explains Samuel.

Another advantage of using this new technology, as Cuppini explains, is the release of the drug, which occurs in the place of infection or inflammation. "Thus, it is not necessary to take an anti-inflammatory or an antibiotic which acts on the whole body, that is, a systemic action. Therefore, it is only being released where the medication is necessary, preventing any future resistance to the drug," says Cuppini.

The research is in the final phase of tests in rats and it will be soon tested in patients at UFRGS Dental Clinic. The materials should work very well and the researchers are very optimistic with the results achieved so far.“ For example, cases of substantial decay in which it reached the pulp, without any chance for restoration, and which the apex of the tooth is not complete, as in children. In such cases, we wait and imagine that the paste that Marla is developing will have an effect enabling the apex to close. Thus, we can keep the tooth, which is a very strategic tooth in the occlusion and in all the processes of formation of the structure of the patients' dental arch. It will be a very important gain," explains Samuel.


Title: Sistema adesivo odontológico com nanocápsulas contendo fármacos (drug loaded nanocapsules Dental adhesive system)

Author: Bruna Genari

Project Advisor: Susana Samuel

Unit: Post-Graduate Program in Dentistry

Text in Portuguese available at:


First published: May, 14 2018 - By Giullia Piaia - Translated by Kelly Carrion - Revised by Prof. Márcia Moura da Silva

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