New Applications for Teeth-Cleaning Microrobots, including Dental Treatment and Diagnostics

Researchers at Penn, led by Dr. Michel Koo, professor in the Department of Orthodontics and divisions of Community Oral Health and Pediatric Dentistry in Penn’s School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Edward Steager, senior research investigator in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, developed a hands-free system of shapeshifting microrobots to help automate the process of brushing and flossing teeth.

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers from Penn Dental Medicine and its Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry (CiPD), have shown that these microrobots can also access the difficult-to-reach surfaces of the root canal with controlled precision, treating and disrupting biofilms and even retrieving samples for diagnostics, which could enable a more personalized treatment plan for patients.

Along with the potential to enhance endodontic treatment and tissue regeneration, this technology could also have broader applications.

“From disinfecting medical devices like catheters to ensuring clean water lines, this technology holds the potential to transform areas far beyond dental medicine,” says Koo. “It could disrupt current modalities across disciplines.”

PCI is actively seeking potential partners and investors for further development of this exciting technology opportunity.  You can find more information about the technology here.

Magnetically actuated 3D molded robots are controlled precisely to target the apical region of the root canal uninterrupted by the surrounding periodontium. (Image: Penn Dental Medicine)
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