Invisible braces have become the popular choice for those who need orthodontic treatments, especially since these braces offer improved aesthetics compared to traditional metal braces (which work with obvious metal wires and brackets). However, the clear plastic polymer material used in invisible braces treatments has been associated with wear and tear on the surface of the teeth, and inside the mouth. The UC3M Polymers and Composite Group’s researchers have come up with a solution to deal with the friction between the teeth, and the invisible brackets – with the use of nanotechnology.
UC3M patented a new process which involves the use of very hard alumina nanoparticles, which will then be evenly spread in the polymer mould (polysulfone); this mould is the one used by Euroortodoncia in the industrial production of the invisible braces. The material made with nanoparticles has been found to increase mechanical and friction resistance, which results to the maintenance of the transparent quality of the braces. The improved friction resistance of the material also resulted in increased strength against wear and tear coming from the teeth, or by chewing motions. Advanced wear and tear on the surface of the teeth associated with braces use will be improved with the addition of the alumina nanoparticles, while still maintaining the desired aesthetic (invisible) braces feature.
The alumina nanoparticles are found to be bio-compatible – a quality that is very important since the material (and the end-product, the invisible braces) will be placed inside the mouth. The nanotechnology-based material has also complied with the European requirements for products which will come into contact with food items.
Nano-reinforced plastics (plastic materials reinforced using nanoparticles) have been discovered to be bio-compatible as well in the development of medical and surgical equipment, making these nano-reinforced plastics suitable for diverse industry applications.