And I mean it -- literally. An article from Vaughan Today, Canada, reports about robots which help straighten smiles. According to this paper, 'Dr. Kevin Davis and his team are the first and only in Canada to offer SureSmile, a high-tech, digital method of producing precision braces.' Davis says that the SureSmile technology shortens tooth-straightening by almost 40% to about 15 to 18 months. The technology uses 3 steps: a 3-D scanner to build a model of your teeth, a proprietary software to develop a custom archwire prescription, and a wire-bending robot to design braces according to your specific treatment plan. And it's not terribly expensive: the SureSmile procedure costs only $700 more than conventional orthodontic treatment. But read more...
You can see above how works the SureSmile technology. This "proprietary technology platform consists of three key components -- the OraScanner, the SureSmile Treatment Planning Software, and the SureSmile Wire-Bending Robot." (Credit: SureSmile website)
SureSmile is a product of OraMetrix, a "provider of innovative 3-D technology solutions facilitating and improving the quality of orthodontic care" with offices in Dallas, Texas and in Berlin, Germany.
Now, let's see how Davis describes the SureSmile procedure. "SureSmile is basically a three-part technology, Davis said. A high-definition video camera captures digital images of a patient’s teeth and transfers them to a computer. 'On the computer I can manipulate the teeth into any different positions in any combinations or order that I want to,' Davis said. 'Instead of having to experiment in the patient’s mouth, which is how I have to do it on conventional braces, this is all done virtually on a computer.' The press of a button later and robots in Dallas jump into action, bending wire to the precise specifications asked for. The finished product is shipped by courier back to Davis. 'It's actually a pretty cool robot,' he said. 'The same people who make BMW cars make the robot. It's a technological wonder.'"
The SureSmile Technology page gives additional details (including the picture above). Here is how the company describes its wire-bending robot. "The SureSmile Robot brings your therapeutic plan to life by precisely customizing archwires per your virtual treatment plan. Our proprietary process allows you to create a specific archwire based on the individual patient’s needs with the desired archform, bends, and placement of bends relative to the brackets. The result is increased performance from each wire."
Here are the key features of this robotic system.
- Precision wires maximize control and efficiency of tooth movement
- Six-axis robot produces 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order bends
- Bends superelastic SMA wires, TiNb, Azurloy and Elgiloy
- Accuracy of angular and torsional bends to 1º
- Accuracy of straight-line bends to 0.1 mm
For more information, you can read a SureSmile brochure, Why Your Smile Deserves SureSmile (PDF format, 9 pages, 1.25 MB). But please note that it is more an advertising document for the technology than a technical paper.
Finally, for those of you who want to know more about the city of Vaughan, Ontario, here is a link to its Wikipedia page. Vaughan has chosen a funny motto. It is simply "The City above Toronto."
Sources: Philip Alves, Vaughan Today, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 31, 2008; and various websites
You'll find related stories by following the links below.