Patients more likely to accept robotic dentistry for non-invasive procedures

March 27, 2018, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
In an online survey of 502 individuals (260 female), participants were 'significantly less willing to undergo more invasive procedures, such as gum surgery and a root canal, and significantly more willing to undergo procedures such as tooth cleaning or whitening performed by a robot,' Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers said. Credit: Jon Metz/Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

You're waiting to get your teeth cleaned, half-dozing in a chair with your mouth propped open when a robot appears to do the job. Would you be willing to undergo a dental cleaning performed by a robot? How about a root canal? Autonomous gum surgery, anyone?

What if the robotic procedure was offered at half-price?

In an online survey of 502 individuals (260 female), participants were "significantly less willing to undergo more invasive procedures, such as gum surgery and a , and significantly more willing to undergo procedures such as tooth cleaning or whitening performed by a ," said Stephen Rice, associate professor of at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Moreover, the promise of half-price dentistry increased participants' willingness to accept from an autonomous robotic dentist, Rice and colleagues reported at the 2018 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare (HFEH) in Boston, Mass., March 26-28.

Currently, medical robots such as the da Vinci Surgical System are being used to help doctors perform various operations, including cardiac surgery. Medical robots can help doctors increase the precision, safety and quality of certain surgical procedures as well as rehabilitation and patient-care operations, Rice said. Yet, robotic dentistry is still in the early stages of development.

In 2017, a robotic dentist in China fitted two dental implants into a woman's mouth. In addition, a Miami, Fla.-based company, Neocis, announced last year that it had received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to introduce a robotically assisted dental surgical system called Yomi.

As robots become increasingly commonplace in many different settings, "It's important to understand consumer perceptions of autonomous technologies," said Embry-Riddle graduate student Emily Anania, the lead student author of the HFEH poster presentation. "People are not always accepting of emerging technologies. We know from many different studies, for example, that driverless cars and autonomous aircraft technologies cause some people to react with fear or anger. Better insights to those perceptions will be essential in order to increase acceptance of these technologies."

In an online survey of 502 individuals (260 female), participants were 'significantly less willing to undergo more invasive procedures, such as gum surgery and a root canal, and significantly more willing to undergo procedures such as tooth cleaning or whitening performed by a robot,' Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers reported. Credit: Jon Metz/Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Ten Dental Procedures

The Embry-Riddle patient-perceptions survey, completed by Rice and five students on the university's Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, informed all participants that robotic dentistry is currently being tested. The survey then asked participants to indicate their willingness to have a robot perform ten separate procedures: teeth cleaning, tooth extraction, root canal, teeth whitening, applying sealant, applying a cap, bonding, gum surgery, applying braces and putting in a filling.

Next, participants were asked similar questions, but with an added incentive: "Imagine that the dentist offers you a 50% (half-price) discount on all dental work done by a robot in his or her office," the survey said. "The robot will work autonomously (without human intervention)."

The data from the study revealed some interesting patterns.

In general, 51% of the respondents were moderately or strongly opposed to robotic dentistry, the research group reported. Respondents were particularly wary of like extractions, root canals, and gum surgery, where 66% of the participants were moderately or strongly opposed. Female respondents in general were less likely to be willing to accept robotic dentistry, Anania said.

On the other hand, there were two procedures that participants were less negative about, including teeth cleaning and/or whitening; here, only 32% of the participants were opposed at full price, and 83% were willing to undergo the if the price was cut in half.

Public-perception surveys of emerging technologies are essential, Rice said, because "consumers help drive what is acceptable with automation, and healthcare is no exception."

Robotic dentists have the potential to improve the precision of different dental procedures, he said. Such technology could make dental care more accessible in rural or otherwise underserved areas. Finally, just as aircraft auto-pilot systems allow pilots to focus on safety, Rice added, robots could free up dentists to continuously improve healthcare practices and protocols.

The research presented at the HFEH event, "Factors Affecting Consumers' Acceptance of Robotic Dentists," was prepared by Rice and Anania, with her fellow graduate students Mattie N. Milner, Nadine Ragbir, Matt Pierce and Nathan W. Walters. A large contingent of Embry-Riddle faculty and students took part in the symposium, which was chaired by Assistant Professor Joseph R. Keebler.

Explore further: Dentist group puts teeth in push to curb opioid painkillers

Related Stories

Dentist group puts teeth in push to curb opioid painkillers

March 26, 2018
The American Dental Association wants dentists to drastically cut back on prescribing opioid painkillers.

Researcher uses stem cells to attack bacteria and regenerate dental pulp

February 7, 2018
Emi Shimizu's research could someday transform a procedure dental patients dread: the root canal.

Study participants—especially women—less willing to ride in driverless ambulances

March 6, 2017
Would you ride in a driverless ambulance? In three separate studies, about half of 1,028 U.S. adults were significantly less willing to be lifted into an automated ambulance, compared with a conventional one, researchers ...

Antimicrobial gel could improve root canal results

October 23, 2017
More than 15 million root canals are done each year, according to the American Association of Endodontists. During the procedure, the tooth's pulp and nerve are removed before the tooth is cleaned and sealed. If bacteria, ...

Robot-assisted surgery for kidney removal not always cost-effective

October 24, 2017
Robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery to remove a patient's entire kidney requires slightly longer operating times and results in increased costs compared with the use of traditional laparoscopic surgery, according to a large, ...

Phobia of dentists leads to more decay and tooth loss, new study finds

April 20, 2017
People who have a severe fear of the dentist are more likely to have tooth decay or missing teeth, according to a new study from King's College London.

Recommended for you

Much-needed new antibiotic shows great promise for treating gum disease

October 23, 2018
A new antibiotic being developed at the University of Virginia School of Medicine appears ideal for battling periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to dental researchers at Virginia Commonwealth ...

Researchers identify immune culprits linked to inflammation and bone loss in gum disease

October 17, 2018
An unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth triggers specialized immune cells that inflame and destroy tissues, leading to the type of bone loss associated with a severe form of gum disease, according to a new study ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

Dental research shows that smoking weakens immune systems

September 26, 2018
As if lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease weren't enough, there's more bad news for cigarette smokers.

Regrowing dental tissue with stem cells from baby teeth

September 11, 2018
Sometimes kids trip and fall, and their teeth take the hit. Nearly half of children suffer some injury to a tooth during childhood. When that trauma affects an immature permanent tooth, it can hinder blood supply and root ...

The starch risk to teeth

August 7, 2018
An examination of research on oral health, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has indicated that for oral health we should stick to whole grain carbohydrates and avoid processed ones, especially if sweet.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.