A newly developed toothbrush also changes its shape for more efficient cleaning: the tiny robot can transform into a bristle-like structure, sweeping away plaque from the tooth surface – and at other times it can slide between the teeth like velvet dental floss.
A group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania wanted to offer an alternative to the mundane and mechanical activities of brushing and flossing.
The research group has developed a hands-free robotic device that could even permanently replace toothbrushes in the future. The automatic cleaning device can scrub the teeth in a customized way.
Beautiful smile – The technology enables much more effective teeth cleaning
Millions of bacteria live in the human oral cavity. And nowadays already more and more evidence suggests that even after being visibly rinsed clean, toothbrushes can remain contaminated – with potentially pathogenic organisms.
The shape and size of toothbrushes have changed over the years. Professionals have gone to great lengths to make their cleaning more efficient and overall safe.
However, the functional characteristics of toothbrushes have remained more or less unchanged despite the addition of electric motors.
The robot toothbrush works with a personalized brush shape
Well, with the robotic toothbrush developed by the researchers, the user can choose a personalized brush shape.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have shown that the hands-free system can effectively protect against bacteria and plaque that cause tooth decay.
The automated brush is made of iron oxide nanoparticles, which have both catalytic and magnetic properties. Using a magnetic field, the researchers tried to create bristle-like structures on robotic brushes that can sweep plaque off the surface of the tooth – and at other times, they can turn into elongated fibers that can slide between the teeth like dental floss.
In both cases, a chemical reaction causes the nanoparticles to produce antimicrobial agents that further kill harmful oral bacteria.
It doesn’t matter if a person’s teeth are straight or misaligned, the technology adapts to different surfaces, say the researchers.
Sticky biofilm is no problem either
Experiments have shown that the automated device’s shape-shifting feature helps remove sticky biofilms that lead to cavities and gum disease.
Biofilms are slimy layers of micro-organisms that stick to moist surfaces – they are responsible for most dental infections but are difficult to remove with manual brushing.
With its multi-axis movement, the new technology is able to penetrate the most challenging grooves of the teeth, easily sweeping away stubborn biofilms.
The research team will also offer the technology in a user-friendly form. Once it is on the market, it can be of great help to people with disabilities, the elderly population – literally anyone who finds brushing and flossing difficult – experts pointed out.