Dental trend spotlight: Robots — the future of dentistry

What if instead of brushing and flossing, an army of microscopic robots kept your teeth clean for you? Once the stuff of utopian science fiction, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have made these nanomachines a reality.

Robots? How do they work?

The robots created by the University of Pennsylvania scientists are driven with magnetic force. Because these machines are so small (over 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair!) and can be guided, they can reach the hardest-to-clean areas of your mouth to scrub away plaque and kill bacteria with heat and antimicrobials. They can adapt to any tooth surface and clean out the bacteria better than you can with a traditional toothbrush and toothpaste.

But this isn’t the only development in mouth machines. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science are using nanobots to improve on standard root canal treatment. These robots generate heat and kill bacteria inside an infected tooth root.

Putting the tech to the test

As part of the testing process for these machines, scientists took tooth samples and injected them with these tiny robots. The scientists then successfully guided the robots through microscopic channels known as dentin tubules. These channels run through the root of the teeth, where the nanomachines were able to kill bacteria and were then removed from the tooth.

Our verdict: Nanobot technology looks very promising. In particular, it could be a more effective alternative to the way root canals are currently performed. However, while this technology is certainly exciting and potentially revolutionary for the dental industry, it’s still very much in its early stages and needs to be studied thoroughly before it can be rolled out to consumers. We’re eager to see how it develops!