Using a 3-D printer, scientists have created a ceramic tooth implant that stimulates the body to slowly replace the implant with native bone. So far in animal studies, the specially designed beta tricalcium phosphate ceramic implant, closely resembles bone tissue and can be absorbed and at the same time replaced by the body’s own bone. They also coat the ceramic implant with a special chemical called Dipyridamole, which increases bone formation by over 50%. Originally used as a blood thinner, Dipyridamole attracts bone stem cells, which in turn causes the development of blood vessels and bone marrow formation– effectively growing new bone. Over time the implant gets replaced with new bone tissue.
Because the implant gets absorbed and replaced slowly, only small amounts of Dipyridamole get released slowly as well. This reduces the chance of having large doses of Dipyridamole getting absorb systemically and affecting other parts of the body.
Animal tests show after 6 month, 70% of the ceramic implant had been replaced by the body with healthy bone tissue. Other studies also showed that the newly grown bone tissue has the same strength as normal bone tissue.
This treatment offers new hope for those who have missing or irregular bone tissue that needs to be replaced. The implant can initially take the place of the body’s bone, but then gets slowly replaced by native bone tissue. Over time, any sort of artificial implant may experience wear, degradation and even rejection. If the implant is replaced by the body’s own tissue, the body now maintains that bone and does not suffer from the possible drawbacks of artificial implant materials.