Bacteria-killing dentures to vanquish oral infections in elderly

(L-R) Dr Sladjana Malic, Dr Lubomira Tosheva, Dr James Pritchett and Dr Christopher Liauw

Common oral infections in older adults – such as candidiasis – could be prevented with ‘rechargeable’ bacteria-killing and fungi-killing dentures, designed by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Candidiasis is a yeast infection that affects many people who wear dentures, causing difficulty in eating and drinking  and can lead to serious problems in the blood, heart, brain, eyes and bones.

Led by Dr Lubomira Tosheva at the School of Science and the Environment and Dr Sladjana Malic at the School of Healthcare Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University, an interdisciplinary research team has developed an acrylic resin for dentures that actively fights bacteria and fungi in the mouth.

The dental resin uses a slow-release mechanism, enabling it to work consistently for 45 days.

Regularly recharged

The researchers mixed silver – which has strong, active antimicrobial properties – with zeolite, a microporous material that enables and controls the slow, timed release of the antibacterial activity in the mouth. Dentures can be regularly ‘recharged’ with antimicrobial and antifungal capability, simply by adding more silver to the dental resin.

Fungi growing in the lab

In addition, the resin fights bacteria and fungi without affecting the appearance of the dentures – so the wearer can have a healthy mouth and retain a good smile, with no discolouration.

Materials chemist and lead author of the research Dr Lubomira Tosheva, said: ‘Oral infections commonly affect people who wear dentures, and can lead to serious healthcare problems, so it is crucial that dentures have the capability to tackle potential diseases at their root before they occur.

‘Our interdisciplinary team has successfully developed a new antimicrobial acrylic resin, made with zeolite and silver, which enables dentures to consistently kill oral bacteria and fungus – meaning that denture wearers can now maintain a healthy mouth without too much effort.’

No harm to humans

Dr Sladjana Malic, a microbiologist from Manchester Metropolitan’s School of Healthcare Science, said: ‘We tested the dental resin for antimicrobial activity and for toxicity, ensuring that the materials have the capability to actively kill bacteria and fungi with no harm to humans. The results showed that the antimicrobial dental resin is effective for forty-five days, and can be potentially recharged after this time with the addition of more silver. This new dental resin has exciting applications for the prevention of oral diseases such as candidiasis.’

Taking too many antibiotics and antifungal medicines can make bacteria and fungi increasingly resistant to treatments, and antimicrobial resistance is a major global health threat – increasing the risk of developing serious infections that cannot be cured.

This preventative approach kills bacteria and fungi before oral infections can occur, so avoids contributing to the growing and potentially devastating problem of antimicrobial resistance.


The research, ‘Zeolite-embedded silver extends antimicrobial activity of dental acrylics’, is published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

It is authored by Sladjana Malic, Sheela Rai, James Redfern, James Pritchett, Christopher M. Liauw, and Joanna Verran and Lubomira Tosheva.

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