Antimicrobials work against biofilm-enclosed microorganisms by slowing them down; they delay their diffusion, scavenging or inactivate them as well as altering the local microenvironment of the cells, resulting in slower growth rate and stress adaptation.
However, the glue-like matrix of biofilms (polysaccharides, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids) makes antimicrobials less effective, as it forms a protective shield.
Antimicrobial surfaces can also be classified as passive coating surfaces, used to prevent adhesion instead of microbial activity. These surfaces use physical properties such as material hydrophobicity, nanotopography, roughness and surface electric charge to achieve this goal.
One example is that anti-plaque and anti-gum disease effects have been reported when an antibacterial agent (Triclosan) is combined with zinc as an antimicrobial in toothpaste.
Further reading on antimicrobials
P.D. Marsh. Controlling the oral biofilm with antimicrobials. Journal of Dentistry, 38, page S11-S15, 2010. https://coek.info/pdf-controlling-the-oral-biofilm-with-antimicrobials-.html.
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