Early tests on a new coating for orthodontic brackets and wires developed by NYU College of Dentistry researchers suggest that it could inhibit plaque growth and decalcification common in patients wearing fixed appliances without decreasing the bond strength between brackets and teeth.
The NYU researchers observed minimal plaque and calculus formation on teeth surrounding the coated braces and no significant difference in bond strength between coated and uncoated braces during their two-year in vitro study.
The coating is made from a calcium phosphate base that releases zinc -- a common ingredient in mouthwash and toothpaste -- onto braces and surrounding teeth. Zinc inhibits the growth of acid-producing bacteria that demineralize teeth, and minimizes dental calculus formation. The coating would be inexpensive to produce, would not require FDA approval, and could be available to market pending patent approval and further testing in patients, said principal investigator Dr. Racquel Z. LeGeros, Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics and the Linkow Professor of Implant Dentistry at NYU.
This is believed to be the first time that such a calcium-phosphate coating has been studied. Efforts to stem plaque and calculus formation in orthodontic patients with other methods, such as applying fluoride-releasing tooth varnishes, or performing laser therapy around brackets, have had limited success, and have diminished bond strength in some cases.