A Greenville doctor is among a handful of Texas dentists and the only one east of the Metroplex to employ the wonders of robotics while fitting patients with dental implants.
Since March, Dr. Jeff Nelson and his sidekick YOMI the robot have teamed to install dental implants into the mouths of 100 or so patients, Nelson estimated. A dental implant is a manmade replacement for the root of a tooth. An implant can anchor a single crown or an arch with multiple crowns, he explained.
YOMI eliminates the need for guesswork and brings an exceptionally high degree of precision and accuracy to the procedure of installing implants, according to Nelson.
“My job is so much easier. I’m at the age when most dentists quit,” said Nelson, 64. “And I’m so excited about what’s going on that I don’t want quit. It’s no fun to grind on crowns or restore implants that aren’t in the right place. My job is so much easier and it’s more fun.”
The experience of getting implants also is a great deal more pleasant for patients than under the conventional method. The use of YOMI significantly reduces the size of incisions that must be made in the gums, and the machine guides the drilling of highly precise holes in the bone.
“We’d have to take the gum tissue all they way up on the inside and out and literally put your fingers around it and make sure you’re drilling a hole in the right place,” explained Nelson. Now, a dentist can do a scan and create a 3D digital model of a patient’s teeth. The information is fed into YOMI’s brain, and the robot produces a highly accurate, detailed plan of exactly where and how deep to drill using precise angles.
The benefit for the patient is less discomfort and less time in the chair, to which Michele Holway of Caddo Mills can attest.
“My first two implants were done the traditional way, and gosh, this was a whole different experience,” she said of the YOMI-assisted procedure. “It was more comfortable. The process was much more streamlined. I went home with no pain. It was just a simpler process.”
The YOMI Robotic Dental System by Neocis became the first FDA-cleared dental surgical system for single implants in 2017. In 2020, it received FDA clearance for full arch implant treatments. It is still the only FDA-cleared robot-assisted dental surgical system, according to the company. Neocis is headquartered in Miami and about 140 YOMI robots are in use across the United States, said company representative Thomas Cumming.
For Nelson, the addition of YOMI is an extension of the digital technology he had already brought to his practice. Digital technology is revolutionizing dentistry, he believes.
“Dentistry in the last five years is completely different than it was. We don’t take conventional impressions anymore. … Everything is scanned. I can scan and print and create 3D models,” explained Nelson.
Using traditional implant procedures, a new “tooth” generally must be adjusted once it is placed into the mouth. The adjustment rate with robotic-assisted implantation is about one in 200, said Nelson.
Although he can reduce discomfort and significantly decrease the time an implant procedure takes, Nelson said he doesn’t charge patients more than when he used the conventional method. He considers his partnership with YOMI a win-win for dentist and patient.
“For me, it’s a level of comfort that I’ve never had before, because whenever you’re doing things that are invasive to people it takes a little bit of your soul every time. You want to get it right, but there are so many things you can’t predict. With this, you just know going into it that’s it’s going to be in the right spot. That makes an old dentist feel good.”