CHICAGO - A trip to the dentist is one of people's biggest fears, especially when you must have major surgery.
But the future of dentistry has arrived and that future could be fearless. It is robotic surgery for dental implants, which means less drilling and a faster recovery.
Open wide — that's what 29-year-old Zachary West was doing as the Yomi robot did its job. Guided by Dr. Sunil Sinha, Zachary was getting a dental implant.
"It enables us to give a very precise and accurate position of where the implant goes," said Dr. Sinha.
Zachary broke his tooth and instead of getting a traditional crown, he opted for an implant. But this one was being done with robotic assistance and because of that, an implant which would normally involve a three to four month procedure was done in a day.
"We can go right in and completely implant and put a crown on it right away in one visit," Dr. Sinha said.
Dental implants have become a preferred treatment of choice for many people to replace missing teeth. That's because they can last twice as long as a bridge or crown.
When it comes to dental implant surgery, accuracy and precision on the surgeon’s part is key.
That's where Yomi plays a role. First, the patient comes in, gets a 3D x-ray and then thanks to Yomi, the surgeon only has to make a small incision that doesn't require any stitches. And then, that's when man and machine get to work.
Think of it as a GPS guided procedure. The correct measurements and targeting means it's less invasive and the implant is placed directly where it needs to go with absolutely no guess work.
"Most of our patients tell us they have no pain, no swelling, no bleeding," Dr. Sinha said.
A smaller incision means a faster recovery and no real healing time. The patient is in and out within an hour in most cases, depending on the job.
For Zachary, that was key.
"I can go back to work right after this, right? So that's kind of like an ideal situation," Zachary said.
Dr. Sinha is the first dentist in the Chicago area to offer Yomi. He says using the robot doesn't add more to the cost of the procedure and this type of robotic surgery will work for most people no matter your age.
Many insurance companies don't cover dental implants because it's considered a cosmetic procedure. But you should check with your insurance company, because implants in general are costly.