A hydrogel for promoting third molar wound healing

Harvard University, BE191-Biomaterials, Spring 2016

Approximately 5 million people undergo third molar extractions resulting in over 11 million patient days of “discomfort or disability” each year. Post-operation, dry socket can occur when the blood clot at the site of extraction is disloged or dissolves. This condition, found in up to 20% of extractions, exposes sensitve bones and nerves in the mouth causing severe pain and a slowed healing process. The aim of this project is to develop a novel hydrogel that can crosslink with fibrin post-extraction to stabalize the clot and deliver factors that aid the healing process. By using a chitosan-catechol solution with genipin to coat the inner socket, a gelatin-transglutaminase hydrogel can then be stabalized in the socket to crosslink with the existing fibrin networks. This system factors in hydrogel degredation over the course of three days of healing to minimize dry socket risk in addtion to speeding the healing process. The hydrogel matrix is advantageous because it allows for supplementation of drug delivery post-extraction to aid healing and reduce site pain. These techniques of crosslinking can be applied to other tooth extractions in addition to smart sutures for use in which clot stabalization is critical.