Advances in the design of macroporous polymer scaffolds for potential applications in dentistry
A paradigm shift is taking place in medicine and dentistry from using synthetic implants and tissue grafts to a tissue engineering approach that uses degradable porous three-dimensional (3D) material hydrogels integrated with cells and bioactive factors to regenerate tissues such as dental bone and other oral tissues. Hydrogels have been established as a biomaterial of choice for many years, as they offer diverse properties that make them ideal in regenerative medicine, including dental applications. Being highly biocompatible and similar to native extracellular matrix, hydrogels have emerged as ideal candidates in the design of 3D scaffolds for tissue regeneration and drug delivery applications. However, precise control over hydrogel properties, such as porosity, pore size, and pore interconnectivity, remains a challenge. Traditional techniques for creating conventional crosslinked polymers have demonstrated limited success in the formation of hydrogels with large pore size, thus limiting cellular infiltration, tissue ingrowth, vascularization, and matrix mineralization (in the case of bone) of tissue-engineered constructs. Emerging technologies have demonstrated the ability to control microarchitectural features in hydrogels such as the creation of large pore size, porosity, and pore interconnectivity, thus allowing the creation of engineered hydrogel scaffolds with a structure and function closely mimicking native tissues. In this review, we explore the various technologies available for the preparation of macroporous scaffolds and their potential applications.