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Brush. Floss. Rinse. Repeat. Every day. At least twice. For the rest of your life.

Or not, if an invention by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Pennsylvania works out.

The group has created nanoparticles mainly made of iron oxide—the stuff of rust—that can swarm teeth in your mouth, clean them more effectively than a toothbrush, and floss between them as well.

Using a magnetic field, the researchers can form the magnetic particles into bristle-like structures that scour teeth surfaces, then transform them into thin strings that can thread their way between teeth like dental floss.

The structures are firm enough to clean teeth, but tests show they remain soft enough to avoid damaging gums and other tissues inside the mouth.

The microscopic bits also catalyze a reaction that creates hydrogen peroxide, a common mouthwash ingredient that kills harmful bacteria in the mouth.

In tests on a variety of human teeth, the nanoparticles almost entirely erased sticky biofilms that can cause cavities and gum disease. 

The microbots also were able to work their way in between overlapping teeth and other hard-to-reach places.

The teeth-cleaning technology also can be programmed to do its tasks automatically, without the user needing to steer the process.

The FDA already has approved iron oxide nanoparticles for other uses inside the body and the inventors are developing a device that fits inside the mouth to operate the needed magnetic field.

TRENDPOST: The programmable, magnetic teeth-cleaning technology will be useful not only for people with disabilities that make conventional brushing difficult, but also for anyone tempted to skip the multi-step tedium of daily dental hygiene.

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