In a research environment electrospun materials have proven to be effective for dental implants. Teeth and the surrounding tissues are composed by hard osseous tissue and soft vascularized and innervated tissue such as the pulp. The versatility of electrospinning techniques and the choices in materials allows for straight forward combinations of polymers, metals or other compounds such as minerals.
Electrospinning technology allows to generate nanofibers which are known to greatly increase the mechanical properties of dental formulations already in small numbers. The production of composite fibers allows to obtain structures with mechanical properties in the same order of magnitude as bone tissue. Another option is to electrospin the composite fibers and subsequently removing the polymer leaving only the mineral part. For example polyethylene oxide (PEO) and silica can be spun in a scaffold and subsequently the polymer can be removed via pyrolysis, leaving pure silica fibers.
Electrospun fibers containing bone mineral components, such as hydroxyapatite or tricalciumphosphate can be used to improve the mineral deposition on dental implants. Implants presenting PLGA or PCL/collagen/hydroxyapatite nanofibers on the surface displayed a better cell adhesion and release of mineralized ECM in the proximity of the implant. Utilizing electrospinning, the three materials can be easily prepared in the same solution and be spun in one step.
One challenge of metal dental implants, for example titanium or magnesium alloys, is their fast degradation in contact with body fluids and the chloride present in them. Hydrophobic polymers such as PCL are able to reduce the contact between the implant surface and body fluids. Electrospun PCL nanofibers were proven to protect the surface of the implants reducing their degradation rate.
As for many other applications, the possibility to mimic the ECM structure can improve the adhesion and proliferation of the pulp stem cells. Additionally the use of PCL electrospun mesh during dental pulp capping showed a better closure and dentin production.
Electrospun meshes can find also application in antimicrobial applications. The large surface area of the fibers loaded with antimicrobial agents increases the changes of contact between bacteria and the antibiotics in the fibers. For example, polydioxanone nanofibers loaded with cyprofloxacine showed a great activity in reducing the biofilm formation by the bacteria E. Faecalis.