A Trip to the Nanotech Dentist

Will nanobots someday clean my teeth? In the future, will my dentist spray a fine mist of nanobots into my mouth? Then, will he activate the nanobots with a remote control, after which the nanobots will identify where plaque and other undesirable materials bond to the enamel of my teeth and dissolve those bonds? Some of the nanobots would also move into the space between the teeth and gums and break up bacteria and the acid molecules they excrete, and possibly even repair cell damage. Then, ten minutes later, will I just rinse my mouth, have an inspection from the dentist, make my appointment for next time, and leave?

Or will I brush my teeth with a toothpaste containing nanobots which will do the job automatically? I thought about that, but am not sure the technology will be ready for that soon, though perhaps eventually that will be possible. At first any new technology must be handled with care, and, as with other introductions of technology, it will need to be introduced carefully and managed by professionals, quite possibly under regulatory control.

Cavities may become a thing of the past. In a similar procedure, my dentist could signal the nanobots to detect molecules consistent with decay, dissolve their bonds with healthy tooth material, and perhaps even fill in any microscopic pits in the enamel with an identical or equally effective material that would not only repair the damage, but leave behind a coating resistant to the attack of acids produced by bacteria when they digest food particles. Then, a quick rinse completes the treatment.

The medical possibilities suggested by this scenario are stunning. When nanobots may be created to detect and act on specific molecules, the possibilities are almost endless. Chemical and biological processes of all kinds could be changed by nanotechnology. Nanotechnology radio receivers already exist and, while sophisticated computing capabilities are not in place yet at nano scale, it is just a matter of time.  In the meantime a radio connection could allow macro-scale computers to control nanobots. Once that is in place, I expect some big changes in our lifestyles, though it may take a decade or two for them to become common. I hope to be around to see at least the beginning of the new age of nanotechnology.

As always, I welcome your comments. They are usually well taken and constructive, and I learn from them. Thanks in advance.  – TIm


4 responses to “A Trip to the Nanotech Dentist

  1. I’ve never considred the idea that nanotechnology could be used in dentistry. Wouldn’t that be great if they invented something you could just spray on your teeth, and it kept them clean 24/7, do to nanotech?

    my page on Iowa City Denists

  2. Teeth cleaning nanobots was a feature of the novel Steel Beach by John Varley from 1993. In it, a “benevolent” computer AI put them in the drinking water, like flouride.

  3. Love it. Hope we get those nanobotsgoin’ by 2020!
    I wrote about it on my website also. Glad there’s more of ‘us’ out there!
    Ed Reifman, DDS

  4. Thanks, Ed Reifman, for your comments and interest. While nanobots are only one of a number of technologies of the future, I can envision nanobots in my toothpaste killing bad bacteria and sparing the good ones. In a more sophisticated application I can imagine the “wifi-connected” bots keeping statistics on the microorganisms they encounter and reducing mouth bacteria to a safe level – restoring a balance – and not just wiping them all out wholesale.
    There are many more ideas to be invented, but we need smart people to do that, and conservative efforts to harm public education and promote charter schools where they can protect their children from meeting people of other cultures, indoctrinate their children with whatever religion they follow, and/or avoid any knowledge/science that confronts their beliefs are extremely counterproductive. In the culture of misinformation the powerful have created in this country the right, while hypocritical and frequently wrong, have the power to block or stymie a lot of good ideas. We may fall victim to our own screwy human politics. As my neighbors consistently try to kill money for schools they apparently miss the fact that, when they need medical attention and the emergency room staff have trouble reading the confusing drug names, the lack of education they created could be killing them. I fear for humanity and my grandchildren.

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