Inside Dental Technology
July 2019
Volume 10, Issue 7

Nanoparticle Robots Remove Biofilm

Regular dental cleaning and routine checkups at the dentist are beneficial to the overall health of the patient. However, this process has not been very high-tech—until now. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have unveiled the use of tiny robots, called nanorobots, able to crawl around and scrape bacterial films from teeth. "The team developed two types of microscopic robots, one of which works on the surface of teeth, while the other can get into very narrow spaces. The robots bring with them catalytic molecules that are able to kill the bacteria within the biofilms, destroy the matrix holding them together, and clean up all the mess left behind," says researcher and professor Hyun (Michel) Koo.1

These robots currently have two methods of deployment. "Catalytic antimicrobial robots" are comprised of bunches of iron-oxide nanoparticles suspended in a solution that can be controlled by magnets. The other type of robots are nanoparticles embedded in gel molds of various 3-dimensional shapes and can pass through narrow cavities in tooth structures. These and other medical nanorobots are very promising because they can achieve their objective using a very conservative and noninvasive process. Having technologically advanced robots clean and eliminate biofilm on tooth structures will make the dental visit a more pleasant experience.


1. Unger Baillie K. An army of microrobots can wipe out dental plaque. Penn Today. Published April 24, 2019. https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/army-microrobots-can-wipe-out-dental-plaque. Accessed June 7, 2019.

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