The late Nobel Prize winning Physicist Richard
P Feynman in 1959 proposed using machine tools to make smaller machine tools,
which in turn, would be used to make still smaller machine tools, and so on, all
the way down to the molecular level. Such nanomachines, nanorobots and
nanodevices ultimately could be used to develop a wide range of atomically
precise microscopic instrumentation and manufacturing tools. Attempts are going
on at present to produce molecular computer components using molecular parts at
the nanometer (10-9 meter or 1 billionth of a meter) scale.
Nanotechnology will have future medical
applications leading to the emergence of nanomedicine and nanodentistry.
Nanodentistry will make it possible to maintain a near perfect oral health
through the use of nanomaterials, biotechnology, including tissue engineering
and nanorobotics. The nanorobotic functions may be controlled by an onboard
nanocomputer that executes preprogrammed instructions in response to local
In the era of nanodentistry, to induce local anaesthesia, dental professional
will instill a colloidal suspension containing millions of active analgesic
micrometer sized dental nanorobot particles on the patientís gingivae. After
contacting the surface of the crown or mucosa, the ambulating nanorobots reach
the dentin by migrating into the gingival sulcus and passing painlessly through
the lamina propria or the 1-3 micrometer thick layer of loose tissue at the
cemento dentinal junction.
On reaching the dentin, the nanorobots enter
dentinal tubule holes that are 1-4 micrometers in diameter and proceed toward
the pulp, guided by a combination of chemical gradients, temperature
differentials and even positional navigation, all under the control of the
onboard nanocomputer, as directed by the dentist.
Orthodontic nanorobots could directly manipulate the periodontal tissues
(gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum and alveolar bone), allowing rapid and
painless tooth straightening, rotating and vertical repositioning within minutes
Natural tooth maintenance:
The appearance and durability of tooth may be improved by replacing upper enamel
layers with covalently bonded artificial materials such as sapphire or diamond,
which have 20 to 100 times the hardness and strength of natural enamel.
A subocclusal dwelling nanorobotic dentifrice
delivered by mouthwash or toothpaste could patrol all supragingival and sub
gingival surfaces at least once a day, metabolizing trapped organic matter into
harmless and odorless vapors and performing continuous calculus debridement.
Dentirobots could identify and destroy
pathogenic bacteria residing in the plaque and elsewhere, while allowing the 500
or so species of harmless oral micro flora to be maintained in a healthy
ecosystem. With this kind of daily dental care available from an early age,
conventional tooth decay and gingival disease will disappear.
Ref: JADA Oct.2000