Most recent advances in nanomaterials fabrication have given access to complex materials such as SiO(2)-Na(2)O-CaO-P(2)O(5) bioactive glasses in the form of amorphous nanoparticles of 20- to 60-nm size. The clinically interesting antimicrobial properties of commercially available, micron-sized bioactive glass 45S5 have been attributed to the continuous liberation of alkaline species during application. Here, we tested the hypothesis that, based on its more than ten-fold higher specific surface area, nanometric bioactive glass releases more alkaline species, and consequently displays a stronger antimicrobial effect, than the currently applied micron-sized material. Ionic dissolution profiles were monitored in simulated body fluid. Antimicrobial efficacy was assessed against clinical isolates of enterococci from persisting root canal infections. The shift from micron- to nano-sized treatment materials afforded a ten-fold increase in silica release and solution pH elevation by more than three units. Furthermore, the killing efficacy was substantially higher with the new material against all tested strains.
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