IISc scientists develop tiny robots to enhance dental care

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru announced that it has developed nano-sized robots using a magnetic field can help kill bacteria deep inside the teeth and boost the success the root canal treatments.

Root canal treatments are routinely carried out to treat tooth infections in millions of patients. The procedure involves removing the infected soft tissue inside the tooth, called the pulp, and flushing the tooth with antibiotics or chemicals to kill the bacteria that causes the infection.

According to the IISc, “At many times, the root canal treatment fails to completely remove all the bacteria especially antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Enterococcus faecalis  which remain hidden inside microscopic canals in the tooth called dentinal tubules.”

In the study published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, the researchers designed helical nanobots made of silicon dioxide coated with iron, which can be controlled using a device that generates a low intensity magnetic field. These nanobots were then injected into extracted tooth samples and their movement was tracked using a microscope.

By tweaking the frequency of the magnetic field, the researchers were able to make the nanobots move at will, and penetrate deep inside the dentinal tubules.

Earlier, scientists have used ultrasound or laser pulses to create shockwaves in the fluid used to flush out the bacteria and tissue debris in order to improve the efficiency of root canal treatment.

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