Orthodontic removable appliances, such as retainers, that include acrylic resin materials provide surfaces that are conducive to bacterial growth. While working in Dr. Ozer’s research lab through the Penn Undergraduate Research Program (PURM) I was part of a project that measures the antibacterial effects of the addition of various concentrations of Gantrez polymer into orthodontic/denture resin material (poly methyl methacrylate). This project had the potential to have profound effects in clinical dentistry. By reducing bacterial adhesion to orthodontic appliances, the addition of Gantrez reduces the risk for periodontal disease and plaque accumulation. At the end of our study, we found that increasing concentrations of Gantrez resulted in less bacterial adhesion. We also performed physical property tests to see how the addition of Gantrez affected the hardness and flexural strength of the acrylic appliances. Our results showed that 5%, 10% and 15% Gantrez did not have a significant effect on the physical properties of the material while 20% and 25% did. Therefore, clinical applications of this study would include synthesis of self-cure acrylic denture material with 5%, 10% and 15% Gantrez.
My time working in Dr. Ozer’s lab this summer has had a profound impact on my experience in both the dental field and the field of research. Coming into this internship, I knew that I wanted to pursue clinical dentistry, but I was unfamiliar with the area of dental research. I was unsure if dental research was something that I wanted to pursue. However, this experience has shown me that clinical dentistry and dental research are not independent of one another. Working in Dr. Ozer’s lab has also opened many doors of opportunity for me as well. As a faculty member of the Penn Dental School, Dr. Ozer gave me the opportunity to shadow in the clinic. In this way, I was able to experience both clinical and research facets of dentistry. I have been blessed to have had this opportunity this summer and I look forward to continuing my work in Dr. Ozer’s lab this coming fall.