The use of robotics in the field of dentistry is still in the early stages. Being that it is so new, this area of research is full of opportunities. The number of applications is vast. Although still new, initial research looks inspiring.
One area that students and researchers are working on using robotics is dental implant surgery. While the surgery may never be fully automated with robotics, robots can be used for preoperative planning, as well as the surgery itself.
The purpose of using a robot to aid in dental implant surgery
is to automate the drilling process involved with the procedure. Benefits of using the robot are an overall safer procedure, more accurate drilling, and quicker healing times.
At present, researchers are able to create a digital 3-D map of teeth. With this 3-D model, researchers are able to create a route for a robot to drill on. The robot is an industrial type called the Denso. They managed to successfully create a boundary around the tooth.
Using a process called teleoperation and software known as Miscroscribe MX, researchers were able to control the Denso robot’s movement. These initial results show promise that dental operations such as dental implant surgery with the use of robotics is possible.
While the preliminary results look promising, there are still some areas that need to further addressing. For instance, patient movement must be tracked using some type of motion sensing device. When motion by the patient is detected, the robotic drill must be able to turn itself off. Next, while the Denso was successful in testing, a more suitable real-world robotic arm must be designed to replace it.
Students and researchers are looking at other areas of dentistry that could benefit from the use of robots. Such areas include denture planning, tooth extractions, jaw surgery, and pre-prosthetic surgery.