Robotic system being used to help place dental implants

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Dr. John Pawlus poses for a photo with his new dental robot that helps place dental implants at his practice, Pawlus Dental in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

A Columbus dentist has become the first in Indiana to use a new robotic system to help place dental implants in what he hopes will become a standard of care in the industry.

Dr. John Pawlus of Pawlus Dental, 4001 W. Goeller Blvd., said he has been using the system, known as Yomi, since June and has placed about 60 implants with it since then.

The system, made by Miami-based company Neocis, is designed to help dentists plan and carry out dental implant surgery and make the procedures quicker and less invasive.

The device uses software and a 3D imaging system to help dentists locate nerves and plan the precise angle, position and depth of the implants, while providing real-time visual guidance. The system also has an arm with a drill attached to it to help create the holes the implants will go into.

Yomi is intended for most patients who need dental implants for missing teeth or other reasons. Pawlus said the robotic system can cut the procedure’s time down by more than half.

“I am still holding the drill in the exact same way I did before, and I’m moving it up and down to the exact position where I would normally,” Pawlus said. “But once I put (the system) in guided mode, it only allows me to go exactly where (the implant) is supposed to go. It doesn’t allow me to deviate or change the angle.”

“What (the system) is providing me is the stopping point and the angle,” he added.

The new robotic systemcomes as robotics are increasingly being used in a variety of medical fields to streamline procedures and make them less invasive.

Locally, Columbus Regional Health uses a variety of robotics to assist with procedures, including several orthopedic procedures and “almost all” gynecological procedures the hospital system offers, according to its website.

Last year, CRH started using a robotic system to help perform lung biopsies.

Currently, it is unclear if systems like Yomi will become more common at dental offices in the coming years. So far, only two dental offices in Indiana use the system, according to a Neocis spokesperson. The other office is SmileCentric in Carmel.

The device also has been used by the New York University School of Dentistry.

“When (patients) first hear about it, yes, I think there may be a little bit of anxiety just due to the fact that they think the robot is doing it all,” Pawlus said. “…Once they start understanding that it is merely assisting me and provides all these massive benefits, then they’re much more open to it, a lot of that anxiety goes away. There’s a million robotic surgeries done per year in the medical industry currently, and it’s basically become a standard of care.”

“I have zero doubt that this will definitely become the standard of care (in dentistry),” Pawlus added.