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NYU Dentistry Performs First Dental Student-led Robot-assisted Dental Implant Surgery

May 11, 2022
by NYU College of Dentistry


Robotic technology enhances dental education and clinical practice

Dental students at NYU College of Dentistry became the first in the U.S. to perform dental implant surgery using state-of-the-art robotic technology.

Following imaging using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), NYU dental student John Pelton (left) is treatment planning the case, along with (from left to right) Dr. Thomas Wiedemann, Gregory Wilkins, Dr. Huzefa Talib, Alireza Hatamifar, and the patient. ©Sorel: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

Following imaging using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), NYU dental student John Pelton (left) is treatment planning the case, along with (from left to right) Dr. Thomas Wiedemann, Gregory Wilkins, Dr. Huzefa Talib, Alireza Hatamifar, and the patient. ©Sorel: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

NYU Dentistry is one of only three dental schools in the nation with a robotic system for dental implant surgery. While NYU faculty and postdoctoral students have completed approximately 150 dental implant cases since acquiring the robotic technology last year, this surgery marks the first time that dental students led the procedure from start to finish.

“We are excited to have our dental students actively engaged in the complexity of implant care using this cutting-edge technology, which will help them to be more skilled, innovative, and collaborative oral health professionals,” said Dr. Robert Glickman, associate dean for clinical affairs and hospital affiliations and professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at NYU Dentistry.

Placing dental implants—in which small metal structures are inserted into the jawbone to support replacement teeth—requires a high degree of accuracy and precision. Yomi, developed by Miami-based health care start-up Neocis, is the first and only robotic device cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for dental implant surgery. The system uses software to preoperatively plan dental implant procedures and provides real-time visual and physical intraoperative guidance to implement the plan.

NYU dental students Alireza Hatamifar (left) and Gregory Wilkins (right) perform the first student-led robot-assisted dental implant surgery. Here, Wilkins prepares to place the dental implant into the patient's mouth, guided by the robotic device. ©Sorel: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

NYU dental students Alireza Hatamifar (left) and Gregory Wilkins (right) perform the first student-led robot-assisted dental implant surgery. Here, Wilkins prepares to place the dental implant into the patient’s mouth, guided by the robotic device. ©Sorel: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

Three students performed the robot-assisted dental implant surgery under the supervision of Dr. Huzefa Talib, clinical associate professor and clinical director in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at NYU Dentistry. The students, who are completing their third year of dental school, had already been observers and surgical assistants for approximately 20 faculty-led implant procedures using the robotic technology. They also led a series of hands-on simulations for other interested students as part of the oral and maxillofacial surgery and periodontal study clubs. Dr. Thomas Wiedemann, clinical associate professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, prepared the students with didactic and simulation experiences throughout the training phases.

On the day of the surgery—May 4, 2022—imaging was conducted using both a handheld intraoral scanner and cone beam computed tomography (in which an X-ray machine rotates around the patient) to create detailed 3D images of the patient’s mouth. The team used the imaging to plan for the precise placement of the dental implant to replace a single tooth.

The students then used the robotic system to guide them in implementing the plan. The system uses haptic technology to provide real-time, physical cues, augmenting a provider’s “feel” and assisting them in the accurate placement of the dental implant. While the robotic arm acts as a guide and can adjust to a patient’s movement in real time to maintain the proper alignment of the implant, the provider maintains control of the dental handpiece at all times.

“This type of hands-on experience with digital planning and robotic technology is currently unavailable in dental schools, at least at the level of predoctoral students,” said Dr. Talib. “With over 500,000 people in the U.S. receiving dental implants each year, we recognize the value in our students having access to this training early in their careers and getting them ready with the latest in the field of digital dentistry as more private practices pivot from the conventional to contemporary practice.”

NYU Dentistry is currently in the pilot phase of introducing robotic technology into the DDS curriculum with interdisciplinary participation from the Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics, and Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, and plans to increase opportunities for dental students in the coming year to gain experience with advanced technologies to prepare them to be leaders in digital dentistry.


About NYU College of Dentistry

Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of the nation’s dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. Visit dental.nyu.edu for more.


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