Vacuum ultraviolet technique reduces peri-implantitis

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UCLA researchers develop technology to dramatically reduce peri-implantitis

A new UV technology takes osseointegration and implant disinfection to a whole new level, potentially making peri-implantitis a thing of the past. (Image: Hryshchyshen Serhii/Shutterstock)

LOS ANGELES, US: With reported cases as high as 19%, the battle against peri-implantitis has left clinicians and researchers constantly searching for ways to ensure that dental implant procedures can be more effective and less prone to postoperative complications. In this pursuit, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have announced a new technology that significantly reduces the risk of postoperative peri-implantitis through enhanced osseointegration and removal of organic materials from the implant surface in less than a minute.

The study explored a novel approach to make titanium implants more compatible with the human body. Over time, the surface properties and bioactivity of titanium implants degrade owing to the build-up of organic molecules on their surface, impeding osseointegration once placed. Conventionally, a method called UV photo-functionalisation is used to clean the titanium surface and enhance its ability to bond with bone. However, this method is slow and not very practical in a clinical setting because it takes anywhere from 12 minutes to 48 hours. The new technology investigated in this study uses a special kind of ultraviolet light called vacuum UV (VUV) with a wavelength of 172 nm, which is very effective in breaking down the unwanted organic molecules on the titanium surface.

The researchers used methylene blue to simulate these molecules and found that VUV light could remove 57% of this dye in just 1 minute. This rapid cleaning process with VUV light has several potential advantages, in addition to speed. VUV-treated implants exhibited almost 100% osseointegration, which increased anchoring twofold and knocked off a full 60% on measures of bacterial susceptibility. All tests were compared against untreated control implants.

Dr Takahiro Ogawa, leader of the research team and a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, commented in a press release: “We have entered a new era in dental implantology. This UV technology not only enhances the effectiveness of dental implants but also improves the quality of life for patients. The possibilities are limitless, and I am incredibly excited about the potential impact on oral and overall health. Our goal is to eradicate peri-implantitis.”

VUV works well on different types of titanium and was effective at treating titanium in quartz ampoules, indicating the possibility of treating implants in their packaging to preserve sterility. It also has potential uses with other materials, and because time and efficiency are crucial in medical settings, the VUV process appears to be more suitable than existing methods. This technology could also result in prostheses requiring fewer implants for their support and a lessened need for implant crowns of reduced size according to the press release.

The initial chronicle of the decade of research on the technology performed by Dr Ogawa is detailed in an article published in Journal of Functional Biomaterials. In the latest research on VUV from 2023, Dr Ogawa further illustrated that the new 1 minute UV treatment was able to induce gingival cells to form a soft-tissue seal around implants. This new development reduces the potential for bacterial contamination of the implant and associated peri-implantitis.

The new VUV light technology offers a faster and more effective way to prepare titanium implants for surgery, potentially improving the success rates of implants by ensuring better osseointegration and sealing. This could be a significant advancement in medical procedures involving implants, making them safer and more reliable.

The study, titled “Vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light photofunctionalization to induce human oral fibroblast transmigration on zirconia”, was published online on 29 October 2023 in Cells.

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