Orem dental surgeon teaming up with robot to do implants
From Disney’s robotic Abraham Lincoln and movie characters WALL-E to “I, Robot” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the public has been fascinated and sometimes concerned that robots are taking over the planet.
That thought may not be too far off the mark. Modern ingenuity has given the world a variety of high-tech things like smart homes, Apple watches and automated vacuums. Now, thanks to Neocis Inc., dental surgeons are getting a robotic arm up.
Yomi by Neocis is the first robotic dental system and is the first and only Federal Drug Administration-cleared robotic surgical system in the United States, providing guidance to dental surgeons as they conduct an implant procedure.
Working much like a GPS system, Yomi is a computerized navigational system intended to provide assistance in both the planning and surgical phases of dental implantation surgery. It allows dentists to perform one or more minimally invasive dental implants during an office visit.
Dr. David Brooks of Brookside Dental in Orem is the first in Utah to use this robotic help with his dental implant surgeries.
Brooks said it has become an essential part in his surgical implant practice, adding that the procedure is accurate, less invasive and takes less time with great results.
The way he learned about the robot was on a whim. “The company was bringing by a demo on its bus,” Brooks said.
He notes that the bus pulled up outside his office, so he went out to see it and immediately knew it was something he needed.
While he is the first in Utah to use Yomi, the Neocis company is based in Florida, where the robots are fabricated.
In the U.S., there are approximately 4 million dental implant procedures performed annually. Up until now, dental implants have always required numerous office visits over extended periods of time because the affected area needs time to heal before further procedures can continue.
Brooks said he has already performed over 100 implants this year using the robotic arm. “It allows me to take (a patient’s) x-ray then plan where it will go in the jawbone.”
The robot is a guided system and it allows Brooks, with the help of an associate at the computer, to get to the right spot. The robot corrects problems and can change with any movement of the patient.
Yomi not only eliminates the guesswork during an implant procedure, but also dramatically shortens the amount of time for an implant to one office visit.
The implant process occurs in two stages. First, it allows the dentist to virtually plan the surgery with software using a scan of the patient, which can be modified at any time if needed.
The software provides a visual of a virtual implant at the desired location of the patient on the scan provided and creates a plan that is then used by the guidance system to provide both visual and audible feedback for the dentist during preparation for an implant procedure.
In addition, dentists are able to accurately highlight the location of and avoid interfering with important anatomical structures, like the jaw’s alveolar nerve.
During the procedure, the arm securely guides the dentist’s hand as it grips the drill through the correct angle, direction and pre-measured depth. The dentist is also given visual guidance in the form of real-time video monitoring, similar to GPS, showing the movement of the drill and arm trajectory.
Given the newfangled technology involved, some may wonder about the cost.
“I don’t charge any more for using the robot over any other normal implant charges,” Brooks said. He figures is is just like any other piece of dental equipment he may have to purchase for his practice.
While traditional dental implant procedures require several months for preparation and processes, because of the precision of the Yomi system, within one office visit the patient can have their tooth extracted and walk out with a viable tooth in time for their next meal with little-to-no downtime or discomfort.
In March, Brooks helped Provo resident Julie Krzymowski with three implants that she needed with the robotic arm.
“It was a little bit weird, but felt comfortable and it wasn’t scary,” Krzymowski said. “The robot knows where to go. All three implants were done quickly.”
Krzymowski said that from the time she was numbed for the procedure to the time she left the office, it was about an hour and a half with the surgical part only taking about 20-25 minutes.
“I’d recommend this type of procedure to others,” Krzymowski said. She said she had to eat soft foods for a couple of days but now she is enjoying things like corn on the cob this summer.
Patients who have insurance that cover implant procedures are able to have this procedure — or portions of it — covered as well, according to Brooks.
Brookside Dental is located at 255 E. 930 South in Orem.