Root canals are tricky for dentists because it’s hard to tell if all infectious material has been removed. Residual material can cause unwanted recurring infections that lead to complications. A recent Medgadget article discussed a new method for improving root canal procedures that involves microrobots. A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania developed the robotic system consisting of iron oxide nanoparticles that are controlled by magnetic fields.
The microrobots are either released in a swarm that disrupts biofilms, or as 3D-printed helix-shaped robots loaded with iron oxide nanoparticles that deliver drugs to infected root canals. The team tested their microrobots in 3D printed human tooth replicas that had been inoculated with bacteria and successfully extracted all nanoparticles from the canal. In the swarm method the microrobots not only removed biofilm, but also extracted it so that the microorganisms that caused the infection can be identified.