A visit to the dentist typically involves time-consuming and sometimes unpleasant scraping with mechanical tools to remove plaque from teeth. What if, instead, a dentist could deploy a small army of tiny robots to precisely and noninvasively remove that buildup? A team of engineers, dentists and biologists has developed a microscopic robotic cleaning crew. With two types of robotic systems -- one designed to work on surfaces and the other to operate inside confined spaces -- the scientists showed that robots with catalytic activity could destroy biofilms, sticky amalgamations of bacteria enmeshed in a protective scaffolding. Such robotic biofilm removal systems could be valuable in a wide range of potential applications, from keeping water pipes and catheters clean to reducing the risk of tooth decay, endodontic infections and implant contamination.
Visit Website | Image credit: Geelsu Hwang and Edward Steager/School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania