The robot rebellion is here. And for their first act of insubordination, robots are showing their independence by . . placing dental implants.
Not really, but it is a truly remarkable advance in the field of robotics that a robot recently placed a dental implant without human intervention (sort of). This feat is just one of many advances in robotics that is automating the procedure to an ever-greater degree.
A New Day in Robotics
The operation took place on September 16 at the College of Oral Medicine, associated with China’s No. 4 Army Doctors University in Xi’an. The robot didn’t completely act on its own. It simply followed a series of instructions that had been programmed into it by a team of dentists, led by a prosthodontist.
However, the robot still had to identify its location in the patient’s mouth using a special marking system that helped it to find its way. The procedure was planned using 3D imaging and a special 3D printed physical frame, similar to the surgical guides commonly used by human surgeons.
In a procedure lasting about an hour, the robot drilled space for two dental implants, then placed the implants.
The dental crowns were placed by human dentists, after verifying that the robot had properly placed the implants.
More Independent Than US Dental Implant Robots
Although this robot is the first to perform a procedure with this level of independence, it’s not the first robotic system developed for placing dental implants. In the US, the FDA cleared a dental implant robot earlier this year. The company developing the system, Neocis, was given the opportunity to market the system in the US. That robot is called Yomi, and it is also a remarkable technology, although it’s not as independent as this robot.
Yomi is essentially a robotic arm that helps guide the human surgeon’s arm. The dentist and robot work together, with the robot providing a level of assistance that is similar to lane departure and collision avoidance systems being offered in new cars. The dentist is in control, but the robot provides guidance and information to help ensure the most accurate placement of dental implants.
Not Ready to Take over
Despite my fanciful description at the beginning of this blog, the robot dentists are far from being ready to replace your lovable, flesh-and-blood dental professionals. And not just because they’re lacking in bedside manner.
In truth, what the robot accomplished, although remarkable for a robot, is only a small portion of the dental implant procedure. A human dentist was still required to take the 3D scans, analyze those scans, and plan the procedure. The human being then programmed the procedure into the robot, who simply followed instructions.
The robot still had to orient itself according to the surgical guides and perform with precision in relation to those guides. But it didn’t even have to place the dental crowns on top of the implants–that was a more delicate task requiring the touch, flexibility, and judgment of a human dentist. And it couldn’t change its own surgical tools–that had to be done by a human.
As with many other robots, this robot won’t be able to replace the human element, just perform a small portion of the task with exceptional precision and speed. Ultimately, this will help human dentists serve more patients and help more people in need of dental implants to get them faster, safer, and possibly even cheaper. But even that is years in the future.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a dental implant in Westchester County, we have two of the most reliable human implant dentists around at Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown. Please call (914) 332-4402 today for an appointment today.