A crack team of engineers, dentists and biologists have created tiny robots that will fix your teeth from the inside. Sounds affordable.
It’s a tired trope from the dour universe of 1950s horror: shrink a bunch of scientists down to microscopic size to fix someone on the inside. Because nothing is original, and Hollywood loves remakes, a crack team of engineers, dentists and biologists have today created a microscopic team of drilling robots to…better safeguard one’s dental health.
Frankly, it sounds more exciting than what it is, as it sounds like an overpriced procedure we need to sell our car to afford, but per Science Daily, the tiny robots are “designed to work on surfaces and the other to operate inside confined spaces — the scientists showed that robots with catalytic activity could ably destroy biofilms, sticky amalgamations of bacteria enmeshed in a protective scaffolding.”
Which sounds dangerously close to something that Michael Bay would touch.
The work, published in Science Robotics (sadly sans Aerosmith soundtrack and slow-motion strut), was led by Hyun Koo of the School of Dental Medicine and Edward Steager of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
“This was a truly synergistic and multidisciplinary interaction,” says Koo. “We’re leveraging the expertise of microbiologists and clinician-scientists as well as engineers to design the best microbial eradication system possible. This is important to other biomedical fields facing drug-resistant biofilms as we approach a post-antibiotic era.”
“Treating biofilms that occur on teeth requires a great deal of manual labour, both on the part of the consumer and the professional,” adds Steager. “We hope to improve treatment options as well as reduce the difficulty of care.”
For those who do not frequent the dentist, or avoid them at dinner parties, biofilms appear on biological surfaces, such as on a tooth, or a joint in two objects, as the bacteria guards itself against antimicrobial agents, otherwise known as the ‘protective matrix’.
In previous work, Koo attempted things that sent the science world atilt, employing iron-oxide-containing nanoparticles that work catalytically, activating hydrogen peroxide to release free radicals that can kill bacteria and destroy biofilms.
Yeah, me either.
Nevertheless, the tiny robots are here, and we should register their whirring.
“We think about robots as automated systems that take actions based on actively gathered information,” says Steager. In this case, he says, “the motion of the robot can be informed by images of the biofilm gathered from micro cameras or other modes of medical imaging.”
I’m keen. Unless they become sentient.