© Pureradiancephoto | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime M 99799255

In brief: Gabapentin on the rise; robots that remove biofilm

July 8, 2022
What prescribers need to know about the risks of gabapentin; shape-shifting robots that could automate brushing and flossing; COVID's dominant subvariants; and more.

Nonmedical use of gabapentin on the rise

Back in 2018, pharmacist and clinical educator Tom Viola wrote an article for DentistryIQ on the dangers of gabapentin and why dental professionals needed to be aware of its potential. Its nonmedical use is on the rise, with Pain Medicine News reporting it as “one of the most prescribed medications in the US” and that prescribers need to understand the potential risks associated with gabapentin, such as overdose risk if used with opioids and the potential for misuse if prescribed in patients with current or prior OUD. (Note: full article may require a free login)

Shape-shifting robots to remove biofilm?

New technology—microrobots—developed by Penn Dental at the University of Pennsylvania could automate rinsing, brushing, and flossing. The building blocks of the robots are iron oxide nanoparticles that have both catalytic and magnetic activity. Experiments using them on mock and real teeth showed that the robots can conform to a variety of shapes to nearly eliminate biofilm, an innovation that could be particularly valuable for those lacking the manual dexterity to take care of their teeth effectively themselves.

Dental Medicaid legislation signed in New Hampshire

In a move supporters say will lead to better health outcomes and save on overall costs, New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu signed legislation last week to provide adults on Medicaid with preventive dental care. The plan will affect up to 120,000 low-income clients and had strong bipartisan support; under it, preventive dental care will be exempt from any copayment.

Increasing number of labs investing in CAD/CAM technologies

Driven by factors that include growing dental tourism and rising incidence of caries and other periodontal diseases, the global dental laboratories market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period (2022–2027), according to a report by Research and Markets. Of note, crowns, metal-ceramics, and milling equipment held the largest share for the forecast period.

Dominant COVID-19 variant “clearly more contagious”

The coronavirus subvariant BA.5 accounted for more than half of the country's COVID cases as of last week, according to the CDC. Along with the subvariant BA.4, the two appear to evade protection from vaccines and previous infections more easily than most predecessors. The FDA has recommended Pfizer and Moderna to adjust their upcoming boosters to target BA.4 and BA.5 directly.