Once the stuff of science fiction, robotics have become a very real part of our workforce. From robots that work in warehouses to weapons-detecting security robots, more and more of us have started encountering robots in our jobs and day-to-day lives. But will your dentist’s office be the next place you see robots at work? Researchers in China are working to make that a reality.
Chinese Dental Robot Places First Implants
A little over a week ago, a robot in China successfully installed two dental implants. According to reports, two human doctors supervised the process, but did not participate, except to help change the robot’s tools. The robot performed the procedure in the city of Xi’an, where it followed pre-programmed commands to install two dental implants into a female patient. The implants were fitted within the acceptable range of 0.2 and 0.3 millimeters of error.
While robotics in dentistry is a new frontier, technology has been making dentistry more accurate, safe, and efficient for years now. It’s not uncommon for dentists to use 3D printing, lasers, and other advanced technology to serve their patients. Here at Dr. Strober’s office, 3D imaging enables CEREC one-visit crowns to be designed, produced, and placed in just one trip to the dentist, and the Solea Laser can be used on both soft and hard tissue to perform procedures like gum recontouring painlessly and precisely, or prepare teeth for fillings and crowns.
There aren’t any robots at our office to perform dental implant procedures. However, our dental implant procedures are made simpler and safer by cutting edge imaging technology. Cone beam computerized tomography allows our dentists to create a 3D picture of the jawbone noninvasively, revealing important information about the shape and density of the bone. This allows the dentist to effectively plan your dental implant procedure, ultimately leading to better stability and a higher success rate.
The Present and Future of Dental Implants
While robots may have more agility in a small space like the inside of the mouth, there is still an element of human expertise and judgment that would make most people nervous to have a procedure like dental implant placement performed without a dentist present. It may be that a human dentist assisted by a robot or operating a robot is a more likely future than simply receiving an entire procedure from a dental version of Wall-E.
This may change in the future, but for now, robots are still just tools. What makes those tools work is the expertise of the trained and experienced professional who is operating them. That’s why if you want dental implants, you should still be looking for the human (not the robot!) with the chops to perform a fast, efficient, reliable implant procedure.