Dental Nanorobots: An Innovation to Improve Root Canal Treatment

Dentists perform more than 41,000 root canals daily. Root canal therapy (RCT), also called endodontics, is a common procedure for saving infected teeth. The success of root canal therapy depends on the anatomy and structure of the teeth, how severe the infection is, and the dentist's expertise. Unfortunately, RCTs can have high failure rates — 20% of people report a failure. Dental nanorobots are a revolutionary addition to conventional root canal therapies. This article discusses dental nanorobots and how they can help when planning an RCT.

Key takeaways:

What is root canal therapy?

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Root canal treatment removes the infection and bacteria from the core of a tooth — the pulp chamber. These bacteria are often present within the canals of the teeth. However, proper treatment saves a badly infected natural tooth from needing to be extracted. Sufficient cleaning of the root canals is a key step of RCT. A lack of proper canal debridement can cause bacteria to thrive — a significant cause of RCT failures.

The tooth is washed with antibiotics or other chemicals that kill the bacteria to get rid of the infection. However, some teeth have complex root structures, and conventional ways of cleaning them are not enough to remove all bacteria. That's one area where dental nanorobots can help. Nanorobots are showing promise in different steps of RCT, even better than traditional ways.

How dental nanorobots benefit RCTs

Dental nanorobots, also called nanobots/nanomotors/nano propellers, are designed to reach nooks and crannies within teeth to disinfect even the narrowest and most complex tooth canals during RCT. As the name suggests, nanorobots are microscopic — one-millionth of a millimeter. Dentists need special equipment like electron microscopes to see them. Their tiny size helps them to enter tooth canals and maneuver to depths and through curves not previously accessible.

Let's see how these microscopic helpers can assist with RCTs.

Accurate diagnosis

One of the main challenges in RCT is accurately diagnosing the location and extent of infection in the root canal. Commonly used methods, such as x-rays, have limitations, and it can be difficult to identify all the affected areas. Dental nanorobots are magnetically driven and help locate and identify the specific sites of infection in teeth, ensuring a more accurate diagnosis.

Induce anesthesia comfortably

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Dental nanobots can travel from the tooth's surface to the pulp chamber in seconds. Once there, they can work according to the dentist's need by producing immediate numbness in the tooth that needs treatment. Nanorobots can also help patients who fear needles during RCTs.

More efficient canal cleaning

Once the infection is identified, nanobots can help clean the root canal thoroughly. They can enter the narrow canals and remove infected tissues, which traditional instruments often miss. Additionally, they reduce the chances of reinfection.

Direct and precise antibiotic delivery

Nanobots can be loaded with antibiotics and programmed to release them when they reach the infected site. These nanobots have sensors, navigate via external signals, and deliver the medicines where the dentist wants them to act.

Act faster

Tiny as they are, nanobots move quickly within root canals. They are faster than dental drills and conventional rotary instruments used for canal cleaning.

Removed with ease

Once their work is done, nanorobots can be pulled back from the dental canals. The dentist externally controls the exit time and routes. Overall, these nanobots can increase the chances of a successful RCT. However, can they “replace” how infected teeth are managed today is still an open question.

Can nanorobots replace common RCTs?

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Research on nanorobots is still in the experimental stages, and we need more evidence to confirm if they can be an alternative to more traditional RCTs.

Dental nanorobots enhance the way root canal therapy is done. Nanorobots can move through human tissue with precision, gather energy, and sense and control their surroundings in real-time. However, the technology still needs the experience, knowledge, and expertise of an endodontist. Without a professional human hand, nanorobots are only machines without direction.

Are dental nanobots already available?

Dental nanobots are not yet available for commercial use. At present, they are in the preclinical phases, and experts are currently working to deploy this technology in patients.

New developments in these tiny robots can change the way dentists diagnose and treat diseases in teeth. While scientists are exploring ways to expand the use of these nanorobots across dentistry, these tiny robots have the potential to make a big impact on root canal therapies — and their success rates.


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