Can A Robot Replace Your Dentist? Tooth HQ Dental Specialist, Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

Robotic dentistry for non-invasive procedures

Robotics technology has advanced considerably in the past couple of years. Robots are being seen increasingly in various technical and medical fields, and now advances in dentistry is seeing robots used more widely there, too. A recent survey reveals how well many people view this advance.


The Survey

The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University wanted to know how well the public is accepting of the new robotic technology in dentistry. The use of robots in medicine is already considerably advanced and used rather widely. 

The survey focused on 10 different types of dental procedures and whether or not people felt that they would let a dental robot – unaided by a human – conduct that procedure on them. The procedures that people were asked about include the following: teeth cleaning, teeth whitening, tooth extraction, root canal, applying sealant, applying a dental cap, bonding, gum surgery, putting on braces, and installing a filling. 

Overall, the survey showed a slightly negative approach to robotic dentistry, with 51 percent saying that they would be against it. An even higher number – 61 percent – indicated that they would not want to have a root canal, extraction, or gum surgery performed on them. The survey revealed that females were less likely to accept robot dental procedures.


Price Cut

The same survey then wanted to find out if people would be more accepting of a robot dentist if the price were cut in half. The stipulation was that the robot would be completely unaided by a dentist or other human. This showed an entirely different result. 

This question revealed a complete change in the willingness of people to accept a robot dentist. Under the half-price condition, two procedures were identified as being accepted by 83 percent of those surveyed – teeth cleaning and teeth whitening. 


Dental Robots Now

While medical robots are already rather advanced, the dental field is only now developing them and slowly putting them into use. Some systems have already been approved by the FDA and you may even see one the next time you go to your dentist’s office. 

Robots in dental offices are already doing some things. This includes making digital impressions, making digital measurements, and digital milling of crowns. 


Pain and Robots

One reason that people fear the robot dentist is because it cannot recognize pain. While a dentist can see the pain on a patient’s face, a robot will not be able to recognize it. Of course, it could be taught to recognize it in the future. 

Many people already have enough fear of the dentist. They are often helped to relax by the compassionate interaction of the dentist when these fearful emotions are noticed. A human dentist can be friendly and put them at ease, helping that person to decide to trust the dentist. 


Autonomous Robot Dentistry

Although people may fear the use of unaided robot dentistry now, there is little doubt that it will be here before long. In 2017, dentists in China used unaided robots to place two dental implants in a woman. The surgery was considered a success. 

The robot took four years to develop. It was developed because China has a shortage of dentists and because it is estimated that as many as 400 million people in that country need dental implants. 


Other Developments in Robot Dentists

Dentists in Poland have created a system using mini-cameras that enables them to see what is happening with the robot platform from inside the mouth. The dentists repaired a cavity in a dummy from another building and the camera and data were live-streamed through the Internet. They controlled the robot through virtual reality glasses and joysticks.

This advance is seen as being useful in a couple of ways. For one thing, dentists would not need to lean over patients, which would help dentists who have back problems. It can also be used where dentists might not be readily available, or in troubled places, such as where a war is occurring. 


Advantages of Robotic Dentistry

Even though people have a tendency to not trust a robot completely, there are some definite advantages with using one. These advantages include:

  • Robots are more precise
  • Robots cannot be distracted
  • Robots can eliminate human error
  • Robots cannot become infected.

The bottom line in dentistry is that a robot can only do what it is programmed to do. In some cases, human assistance will not be necessary, but in other situations, the decision-making skills should be left to humans. 

If you are interested in learning about the latest advances in dentistry and robotics technology,  Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS MBA, a Board Certified Periodontist from Tooth HQ Dental Clinic can help you. He uses a dental robot in his office and keeps up with the latest and best technology to give you the best dental treatments. He has offices in the Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Mockingbird/SMU, and Grapevine, TX areas.