A set of robotic jaws designed to mimic the chewing motion of humans will this year be loaded with copies of real human teeth. A new optical scanner will be used to make the replicas, and test how implants and false teeth might wear during use.
The robot, called Dento-Munch, was perfected by University of Bristol, UK, engineer Kazem Alemzadeh. It mimics the full movement of the human jaw (see image, top right).
The lower platform that plays the part of the lower jaw is capable of moving in 6 degrees of freedom, just like the human jaw. It can move and rotate around each 3D axis: up and down, forwards and backwards, and left and right.
Alemzadeh now plans to make accurate copies of human teeth for Dento-Munch to chew with.
He has adapted a cheap way of imaging 3D objects to scan standard plaster casts of teeth made by dentists using an office projector, a digital camera, and some custom software. The detailed 3D digital copies will be used to machine replicas later loaded into the jaw.
The UK spends around £2.5 billion each year on dental materials to replace or strengthen teeth*. The Chewing Robot is a new biologically inspired way to test dental materials and it will be shown to the public for the first time at this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.
Researchers at the University of Bristol's Department of Mechanical Engineering in collaboration with the Department of Oral and Dental Science have developed the Chewing Robot to study dental wear formation on human teeth.
Dental elements, such as crowns and bridges, are made from well-known metals, polymers and ceramics but their dental wear properties are often poorly understood. Clinical trials examining the wear of human teeth are expensive and time-consuming. By the time a new material has been tested, it is often obsolete.
The movements and forces involved in natural chewing action have been replicated using the new chewing simulator -- the Chewing Robot. The robot is based on a three-dimensional mechanism with six linear actuators that reproduce the motion and forces sustained by teeth within a human mouth.
A human jaw is a powerful and complex piece of natural machinery, allowing a person to chew in many different ways. The lower jaw and the teeth move with six degrees of freedom, translating and rotating along each of the Cartesian axes.