A trip to the dentist or orthodontist usually instills a sense of dread in most patients, and that’s before the exam even begins. Add to that the fear of oral surgery with a painful recovery, and many people will avoid these visits at all costs. Now, one group reports a pre-clinical study in ACS Nano showing that they could potentially reduce pain and recovery time with the aid of specialized nanotechnology. Every year, 5 million people undergo orthodontic procedures in the U.S., according to the American Association of Orthodontists. In some cases, teeth are misaligned to such an extent that surgery is required to cut collagen fibers under the gums before braces are put on the teeth. But patients often choose not to undergo the procedure because it’s invasive and can be painful. Scientists recently have turned to nanotechnologies to target therapeutics to specific locations. For example, previous studies have shown some success in using liposomes, which are empty nanoscale vesicles, for drug delivery. Collagenase enzymes could potentially remodel the fibers connecting teeth to bone in the mouth without using a scalpel, but so far, delivering enzymes with liposomes has been challenging.
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