Dental trend spotlight: tiny teeth-cleaning robots

We’ve all probably heard of ways to make our homes “smarter” — an interactive thermostat, voice-activated light bulbs and more. But what about a smart mouth?

Introducing nanobots to the world of oral health

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created tiny cleaning robots they think could help clean even the hardest-to-reach areas of the mouth and your teeth. The nano-sized robots can be driven with magnetic force, ideally into the tiny areas in and between your teeth to both scrub away plaque and kill bacteria with heat and antimicrobials.

The nanobots can adapt to any tooth surface or position and can clean out the bacteria better than you could with a traditional toothbrush and toothpaste. Other researchers from the Indian Institute of Science are using nanobots to generate heat and kill bacteria inside an infected tooth rot. This could potentially offer a way to improve the standard root canal treatment.

Putting technology to the test

During testing, scientists took tooth samples and injected them with the robots and were able to successfully guide them through tiny, microscopic channels (dentin tubules) that run through the root of the tooth. In the tubules, the nanobots killed the bacteria and then were removed from the tooth.

By tapping into nanobot technology, these robots could be an alternative to the current way root canals are performed because they may be able to clean out all bacteria and infected material more thoroughly.

Our verdict: While this revolutionary technology is exciting for the world of dentistry, it is still very much in the beginning phases, and is being thoroughly studied before it has the possibility of being introduced to consumers. We’re eager to see how it develops.

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