ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: March 11, 2015

Graphene: A new tool for fighting cavities and gum disease?

"Killing Dental Pathogens Using Antibacterial Graphene Oxide"
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in the world. Now scientists have discovered that a material called graphene oxide is effective at eliminating these bacteria, some of which have developed antibiotic resistance. They report the findings in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Zisheng Tang and colleagues point out that dentists often prescribe traditional antibiotics to get rid of bacteria that cause tooth decay or gum disease. But with the rise in antibiotic resistance, new approaches are needed to address these problems, which can lead to tooth loss. Previous studies have demonstrated that graphene oxide — carbon nanosheets studded with oxygen groups — is a promising material in biomedical applications. It can inhibit the growth of some bacterial strains with minimal harm to mammalian cells. Tang’s team wanted to see if the nanosheets would also stop the specific bacteria that cause dental diseases.

In the lab, the researchers tested the material against three different species of bacteria that are linked to tooth decay and gum disease. By destroying the bacterial cell walls and membranes, graphene oxide effectively slowed the growth of the pathogens. The researchers conclude that the nanosheets could have potential uses in dental care.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Shanghai Natural Science Foundation and the Hospital-Public Cross-Link Project of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Preventing dental diseases could someday include treatments with graphene oxide.
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