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Strontium-loaded scaffold may improve dental implant wound healing

Novel hydrogel scaffolds developed by researchers from the University at Buffalo containing various concentrations of strontium. (Image: Michelle Visser)

BUFFALO, N.Y., US: Formation of an effective soft-tissue seal around dental implants can be supported by modifying implant surfaces. A research team from the University at Buffalo has found that strontium supports soft-tissue function and therefore developed a customisable strontium-filled scaffold that is intended to improve wound healing and tissue attachment in dental implant treatments.

Strontium, a naturally occurring metal, has been shown to be helpful in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. It has been used for treating dentinal hypersensitivity and works as an agent against plaque and gingivitis. Previous research by the university found that the metal promotes the activity of fibroblasts—a cell type responsible for forming connective tissues that plays a crucial role in wound healing.

In the current study, the research team developed a strontium-loaded hydrogel scaffold that can be customised to any size and shape of implant collar or healing abutment by the creation of reusable, ring-shaped templates and moulds. The strontium ions are then released from the scaffold in an initial burst over 24 hours, followed by a sustained dosage over four days. According to the researchers, this process involves minimal toxicity for the patients.

The study results indicated that the strontium ions were effectively released from the scaffold, stimulating gingival fibroblast activity and thus promoting wound healing. In addition, tests showed that the hydrogel scaffold alone had only a minimal effect on the tissue.

The study authors stated that the strontium-loaded scaffold displays good biocompatibility and functionality and that it has great potential for promoting wound healing processes following implant placement.

“Scaffold materials have been explored to promote bone and skin wound healing, but adaptations for the oral cavity are limited,” commented lead author Dr Michelle Visser, associate professor of oral biology at the university’s School of Dental Medicine, in a press release. “These novel scaffolds represent a system for effective strontium release in the oral cavity,” she added.

The study, titled “Strontium-loaded hydrogel scaffolds to promote gingival fibroblast function”, was published in the January 2023 issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

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