Removing biofilms from microstructured titanium Ex Vivo
A novel approach using atmospheric plasma technology
The removal of biofilms from microstructured titanium used for dental implants is a still unresolved challenge. This experimental study investigated disinfection and removal of in situ formed biofilms from microstructured titanium using cold atmospheric plasma in combination with air/water spray. Titanium discs (roughness (Ra): 1.96 m) were exposed to human oral cavities for 24 and 72 hours (n = 149 each) to produce biofilms. Biofilm thickness was determined using confocal laser scanning microscopy (n = 5 each). Plasma treatment of biofilms was carried out ex vivo using a microwave-driven pulsed plasma source working at temperatures from 39 to 43°C. Following plasma treatment, one group was air/water spray treated before re-treatment by second plasma pulses. Vital microorganisms on the titanium surfaces were identified by contact culture (Rodac agar plates). Biofilm presence and bacterial viability were quantified by fluorescence microscopy. Morphology of titanium surfa ces and attached biofilms was visualized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Total protein amounts of biofilms were colorimetrically quantified. Untreated and air/water treated biofilms served as controls. Cold plasma treatment of native biofilms with a mean thickness of 19 m (24 h) to 91 m (72 h) covering the microstructure of the titanium surface caused inactivation of biofilm bacteria and significant reduction of protein amounts. Total removal of biofilms, however, required additional application of air/water spray, and a second series of plasma treatment. Importantly, the microstructure of the titanium discs was not altered by plasma treatment. The combination of atmospheric plasma and non-abrasive air/water spray is applicable for complete elimination of oral biofilms from microstructured titanium used for dental implants and may enable new routes for the therapy of periimplant disease.