Dento-Munch: a robotic dental testing simulator
17 January 2008
A novel dental robot and a 3D Optical Scanner invented by Dr Kazem Alemzadeh of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol were featured twice recently in New Scientist.
A robotic system that mimics the biting, chewing and munching of the human jaw is being developed by the University of Bristol, UK, Dr Kazem Alemzadeh. The robot is called Dento-Munch; it should provide a more realistic way to test materials for use in dentistry.
Some £2.5 billion is spent every year in the UK alone on dental materials, which are used to replace or strengthen teeth. Lack of an adequate method of field testing is hindering dental development. Despite the frequent use of metals, polymers and ceramics for tooth restoration, properties such as modulus of elasticity, flexural strength, hardness, wear and fatigue are often poorly understood. Without this knowledge the likely long term performance of the materials cannot be judged. Randomised clinical trial is time-consuming and expensive, and by the time a new material has been evaluated the market has often moved on. Current laboratory simulators utilise only 2-3 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) and are unable to reflect true clinical performance. Indeed results from different simulators are often inconsistent.
Dento-Munch is capable of moving in 6 DOF, just like the human jaw and it could revolutionise the future of dental research. “The design inspiration is based on a human skull, a spider and an aircraft simulator” Dr Kazem Alemzadeh.