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Scientists Develop Coatings to Combat Bacteria on Retainers and Aligners

In the past, many adults and teens avoided orthodontic treatments because they hated the idea of metal brackets and wires. The social stigma surrounding braces, along with the potential for daily discomfort and sometimes even pain, was enough for many to choose to just live with less-than-perfect teeth and the additional care that goes into trying to clean between extremely tight spaces of crowded, crooked teeth.

With the invention of clear aligners like Invisalign, more and more people have gotten the orthodontic care they need in a discreet, easier-to-use way than traditional braces. Clear aligners are easier to clean and can be removed during eating and daily oral hygiene routines, making staining less likely and keeping the mouth cleaner as a result.

One problem that does occur with the use of clear aligners and even with retainers, often worn after orthodontic treatment to keep teeth in place for life, is the buildup of bacteria on these plastic devices. These bacteria develop into a biofilm that can be hard to manage and can even begin to break down the plastics the retainers and aligners are made of. This can be harmful for teeth, the mouth and even the body as a whole. In some cases, even those with impeccable oral hygiene routines still struggle with controlling bacteria buildup simply due to the nature of the average mouth and all the good and bad natural bacteria that live there.

A research team from the American Chemical Society developed a layered film using polymer sheets of polyethylene terephthalate modified with glycol and layered with carboxymethylcelilosse and chitosan. This created a water-loving surface, or super-hydrophilic surface, which prevented the bacteria from adhering to the plastic material. Testing revealed that the growth of bacteria on the plastic retainers and aligners was reduced by up to 75 percent using the newly developed film. It also made the plastics stronger and more durable through testing with artificial saliva and even various acidic solutions.

To learn more about clear aligners, retainers and keeping them as clean as possible until the day this newly developed film becomes available to everyone, call us today at 206-316-8286.

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