Systematic review examines status quo of robot technology in dentistry
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Robotic technologies have long since ceased to be the stuff of sci-fi and have become a real and reliable part of many areas of everyday life. A study has now examined the developments in this regard in the dental industry in order to provide dental practitioners and researchers with a comprehensive and transparent evidence-based overview of physical robot initiatives in all fields of dentistry.
In their systematic review, the researchers, from the University of Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology, both in the Netherlands, searched for articles published between January 1985 and October 2020 that concern primary data on physical robot technology in any area of dentistry. Robot technology solely for the purpose of research and maxillofacial surgery was excluded. In total, 94 articles were included.
Overall, the review showed that most research in this field has been limited to those situations where physical contact with a human can be avoided, for example education and manipulation of dental materials such as orthodontic wires. Although articles on this topic started to appear around 20 years ago and initiatives can be found in every field of dentistry, the initiatives that made it into practice are scarce. This is unexpected, since robots can be particularly useful in areas that are difficult to access and are known for their accurate, reliable and reproducible performance.
A well-known example of robots in dentistry is Yomi by the company Neocis. Yomi, a robot-assisted surgical device, is the first and only platform of its kind to receive clearance from the FDA for use in dental implant surgery. In an interview with Dental Tribune International, Alon Mozes, CEO and co-founder of Neocis, explained that "there are obvious advantages to leveraging the skills of a robotic system".
The authors concluded that strong scientific evidence of the functionality of commercially available robotic systems in dentistry seems limited in both clinical use and cost-effectiveness. They therefore recommended conducting and publishing well-designed research supporting the use of these innovative and state-of-the-art examples of robot technology in dentistry. The authors expressed their confidence that robotics will provide useful solutions in the future and they strongly encouraged dental professionals to adopt an evidence-based approach when seeking to employ new robot technology.
The study, titled “Robot technology in dentistry, part two of a systematic review: An overview of initiatives”, was published in the August 2021 issue of Dental Materials.