Are robots, nanoparticles, and algae the future of dental and orthodontic care?!

Step aside, outdated dental and orthodontic treatments and devices! Technology has set the tone for dental work of the future, and numerous advances are changing things for the better. From laser technology to 3-D printing to holograms and even robotic surgeons, today’s cutting-edge developments are improving the efficiency of every aspect of care, while decreasing the amount of time spent on procedures and lowering the number of in-person visits necessary. Let’s look at some of the most remarkable ways dental and orthodontic care have recently changed and may soon be changing.


The future of dental and orthodontic care


Yomi, the robotic dental surgeon


The first-ever FDA-approved dental robotic tool, the Yomi dental surgery system, was cleared by the FDA for a Florida-based company named Neocis in 2017. The Yomi system offers advantages like more accuracy and precision during surgical procedures, as well as less time needed under the knife. Additionally, less time is spent waiting for lab-crafted surgical guides once dental impressions have been made. With the Yomi, clinicians are able to create a 3-D image with a dental scan, plan their own surgery, and perform it, all within the same day.


The surgeries completed using Yomi are also generally considered less invasive with fewer (or smaller) incisions required, with less pain experienced afterward, and an overall quicker recovery period. What’s more? Yomi’s software helps plan the surgery using the patient’s CT scan, enabling Yomi to track and control the drill as the surgeon progresses. This ensures precision while simultaneously allowing for last-minute changes when needed.



Augmented Reality (AR) helps dental students explore human anatomy



The way dental and orthodontic students learn is also changing with the latest technology. Microsoft, for example, has recently brought the technology of interactive 3-D holograms (a type of Augmented Reality) to dental classrooms in the form of the HoloHuman. This tool is useful for studying anatomy in place of a cadaver. The HoloHuman allows dental students to explore the head and neck in a way they describe as, “having radiographic vision, as they can see through the skin and explore depths and layers of the human body.” The app allows learners to virtually dissect 12 different body systems.


The average person can also enjoy future tech vision. Another, similar type of app can show dental or orthodontic patients how their smile will look when treatments have been completed.



Digital X-rays are becoming more popular - and use less radiation


Traditional radiographs are gradually being replaced by digitized X-rays, and a boost in popularity has recently occurred among dental professionals. The speed and efficiency of digital X-rays exceed those of radiographs, as a phosphor plate is used in the mouth instead of film for capturing the image. The image can then be scanned to a computer for viewing, taking much less time than developing regular film. Digital X-rays can be used to find cavities, check the bone under the teeth, make sure implants are placed correctly, assist endodontists in their root canal work, and more. All this is done using less radiation than traditional radiography needs to use, too.


Laser cavity detection has arrived


Dentists may begin opting for the diode laser to help locate cavities. Much handier than the age-old method of poking around the teeth with sharp instruments, the diode laser causes decayed teeth to glow while healthy teeth do not. This could possibly lead to the earlier detection of cavities. However, some teeth that already have fillings may not respond as well as the others do and will still need a dentist’s expert touch.


Better bonding and filling materials have been created


For anyone with cracked or chipped teeth, take heart! Technology is making it easier than ever to put your smile back together. The bonding and filling materials of yesteryear are now being replaced by shinier, sturdier, and more natural-looking resin. There are also a greater number of resin shades to choose from now, making it easier to blend in with the tooth’s natural color. This, paired with the fact that most dentists are opting away from old-school shiny amalgams in favor of natural tooth-colored fillings, makes for more attractive, modern-looking restorations.



Amazing new ways of dealing with bacteria are being invented. Here are some incredible innovations!



A toothbrush that detects and points out biofilm


You’ll probably be surprised at the new ways found for dealing with bacteria. For starters, there’s a new toothbrush by Colgate that can actually detect and point to bacterial biofilm (biofilms are described as groups of bacteria that work together and protect each other) on your teeth, making it easier than ever to eliminate them. This can drastically assist with cutting down on caries, and the toothbrush won a CES innovation award last year.



Algae skeletons shoot bubbles at biofilm...say what?!?


Additionally, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using something called diatoms, which are technically the skeletons of algae combined with hydrogen peroxide and manganese oxide nanosheets, to make swift-moving oxygen bubbles to deal with bacterial biofilms. According to MedGadget, “These bubbles, when delivered in quantity, are powerful enough to hammer through biofilms and expose their individual bacterial cells.” Wow!



Microscopic robots work together to eliminate biofilms


Next up, Penn State Researchers have created microscopic robots that work together as a team to scrape the surface of the teeth and work in narrow spaces, to eliminate biofilms. While the technology is undoubtedly interesting for dentistry and orthodontics, it may also be helpful for cleaning medical instruments, preventing the build-up of biofilms around implants, and even keeping water pipes clean!



Aligner coating prevents bacterial build-up


Today’s dental aligners are frequently in need of changing, brushing, or washing to prevent bacterial build-up. However, researchers in Korea have now crafted a specialized coating to apply over aligners which prevents bacteria from hanging out. When tested, the coating proved to be 75% better at reducing bacterial contamination than just bare plastic.


Nanoparticles crafted for preventing tooth decay


The University of Rochester and University of Pennsylvania researchers have created nanoparticles designed for the protection of teeth and prevention of tooth decay. They are able to target areas heavy with biofilms and deliver controlled-release drugs made for the purpose of causing the biofilms to become unstable and breakable. The nanoparticles delivering the drugs will be swallowed afterward, however, so researchers are still working on safety before we will see these available in the marketplace. Keep an eye out, though -- they’re sure to be in our toothpaste or other dental products sometime soon!



Conclusion


The future is coming, and dental/orthodontic care is in line with its changes. As we’ve seen here, dental work is transforming in efficiency, precision, and accuracy, designed to make treatments more useful and innovative, keeping your teeth healthier than ever. If you’re interested in the way Jungle Roots is changing with new technology, feel free to ask! We’d be happy to talk to you about what we like, what we plan to wait on, and why. Thanks for reading and we look forward to talking to you soon!


Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.


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Additional Reading and Interesting Resources:


  1. “9 Technologies That Will Shape The Future Of Dentistry.” The Medical Futurist, 2 Nov. 2020, medicalfuturist.com/the-amazing-future-of-dentistry-and-oral-health/.

  2. Augmented Reality dental apps, YouTube, 13 Aug. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy5-KLJVJkY.

  3. 3. Barger, Theresa Sullivan. “New High-Tech Tools Are Making Dentistry Faster, More Effective and Less Painful.” Connecticut Magazine, 20 July 2020, www.connecticutmag.com/issues/features/new-high-tech-tools-are-making-dentistry-faster-more-effective-and-less-painful/article_46dabbfa-c86e-11ea-b4ff-83a7ae16215d.html.

  4. Dental Tribune International January 2020, “Dental Students Embrace New Learning Technology That Helps Them Build Their Skills & Knowledge.” In.dental, in.dental-tribune.com/news/dental-students-embrace-new-learning-technology-that-helps-them-build-their-skills-knowledge.

  5. Editors, Medgadget. “Colgate Unveils Toothbrush That Can Spot Bacterial Biofilm on Teeth |.” Medgadget, 8 Jan. 2020, www.medgadget.com/2020/01/colgate-unveils-toothbrush-that-can-spot-bacterial-biofilm-on-teeth.html.

  6. Editors, Medgadget. “Microbubble-Shooting Algae Skeletons Kill Bacterial Biofilms |.” Medgadget, 24 Sept. 2018, www.medgadget.com/2018/09/microbubble-shooting-algae-skeletons-kill-bacterial-biofilms.html.

  7. Editors, Medgadget. “Microscopic Robots Scrape at Bacterial Biofilms to Clean Teeth |.” Medgadget, 26 Apr. 2019, www.medgadget.com/2019/04/microscopic-robots-scrape-at-bacterial-biofilms-to-clean-teeth.html.

  8. Editors, Medgadget. “New Coating for Dental Aligners Keeps Bacteria from Growing |.” Medgadget, 24 May 2018, www.medgadget.com/2018/05/new-coating-for-dental-aligners-keeps-bacteria-from-growing.html.

  9. Editors, Medgadget. “Proteins Recruited to Build Synthetic Enamel for Dental Applications |.” Medgadget, 4 June 2018, www.medgadget.com/2018/06/proteins-recruited-to-build-synthetic-enamel-for-dental-applications.html.

  10. Editors, Medgadget. “Yomi, The First Robotic Dental Surgery System Now Cleared by FDA |.” Medgadget, 2 Mar. 2017, www.medgadget.com/2017/03/yomi-first-robotic-dental-surgery-system-now-cleared-fda.html.

  11. Ouyang, Ben. “Nanoparticles to Prevent Tooth Decay; Looking to Put Dentists Out of Business |.” Medgadget, 20 Apr. 2015, www.medgadget.com/2015/04/nanoparticles-to-prevent-tooth-decay-looking-to-put-dentists-out-of-business.html.