Sunday, April 17, 2005

Israeli dental robot makes implants less painful, less expensive

A new Israeli start-up wants to put a robot in your mouth.

The company, Rehovot-based Tactile Technologies, recently obtained US Food and Drug Administration marketing approval for its novel dental implant location software. The software is a three-dimensional surgery planning solution, which will soon be marketed in the U.S.

The company's flagship product, which is in the final stages of development, is an Implant Location System (ILS) that uses a disposable micro-robot for carrying out dental implant procedures. The company promises that when this product hits the market, the process of getting dental implants will be less painful and less expensive.

A series of animal trials has been successfully completed on the system and clinical trials on humans are slated for July 2005. The company has already signed cooperation agreements with a number of leading medical research centers, including Vienna General Hospital, Boston University Hospital, and New York University.

The bone-sensing technology will enable precision three-dimensional measurement of bone tissue covered by soft tissue, without the need for invasive surgical procedures. The Implant Location System applies tactile sensing technology to offer intra-oral image-guided navigation specifically for dentists. Its computer-guided sensing, navigation and guiding suite for placement of dental implants is designed both for the general practitioner and the expert.

Tactile Technologies' aim is to help the firms that manufacture implants to find a solution for placing them that minimizes the risks and simplifies the procedure They are doing so using tactile sensing technology, three-dimensional radiological visualization and miniaturized robotic control which is changing the dental landscape.

Tactile Technologies was founded in 2003 by a group of physicists, among them Dr. Zvika Slovin, 39, who serves as CEO of the company.

"We are a group of four entrepreneurs - this is our third start-up," Slovin told ISRAEL21c. "This time, we wanted to search for a really unique startup that would not only make money but would make a difference - and that was why we chose to look into the medical market. All of our previous ventures were strictly technical."

Slovin said that when their group looked at the dental implant market, they found a highly lucrative niche "in which not a lot had changed in the past 20-30 years, and high technology has not yet made an impact."

The problem that they set out to solve was the level of technical sophistication that is necessary for dentists to perform implants, which are increasingly popular in demand.

"Every implant is a titanium screw and they are afraid of perforating a bone or damaging a nerve," Slovin said

Inserting dental implants in their proper location in the jaw is a surgical procedure that requires a great deal of experience, knowledge and expertise. Wrong placement of implants may cause implant failure and irreversible damage to anatomical structures. Performing implants is not something that is taught in standard dental curriculum.

According to Slovin, current devices still suffer from inaccuracy, high procedural complexity and high prices. 90 percent of all implant procedures are performed by only 4% of dentists, he added.

"To change this you have or provide the means for a safer and easier process," Slovin said.

The Tactile Technologies concept is a system in which most of the elements are disposable, except for a drill-guided sheath. The sheaths guide the drilling process by constraining drill movement to exactly the right position, angles and depth.

Their technology is the very first to offer accurate image-guided navigation relying on low-cost disposable elements, without involving any special sophisticated or expensive equipment.

Read the rest here.

One of the greatest new innovations in modern day dentistry is the dental implant. The implant is changing the face of dentistry and helping many patients avoid complete and partial dentures.

This software product sounds promising and hopefully will make implant placment easier for the general dentist.

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