Masticating robot aids dental research

British scientists have developed a ‘chewing robot’ to help understand the wear and tear undergone by human teeth.

The new mechanical mandible, which mimics the action of a human jaw, was designed by University of Bristol student Daniel Raabe.




Its aim is to test new types of crowns and other dental fittings which can prove costly and time consuming when tested on human subjects.


Researchers at the University of Bristol’s Department of Mechanical Engineering worked in collaboration with the Department of Oral and Dental Science.


Dr Kazem Alemzadehv at the university came up with the concept after seeing aircraft simulators using similar movements.


The design and development of the robot was carried out by Daniel Raabe, a mechanical engineering PhD student at the university.


Mr Raabe said: ‘By reproducing natural bite forces and movements, the chewing robot can help improve and accelerate the process of developing new dental restorative materials that may someday be found in a person’s mouth.’

The UK spends around £2.5 billion each year on dental materials to replace or strengthen teeth.

• The robot is currently at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, the premier annual showcase for scientific excellence in the UK, which is running until this Saturday (4 July) at the Royal Society in London.


The exhibit, ‘The Chewing Robot: a new biologically-inspired way to test dental materials’ is sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Wellcome Trust, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), Holford and Partners and the Department of Oral and Dental Science, and is located in the City of London Room, ground floor.  


Visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to find out more about biologically inspired design.


Two interactive units will complement the Chewing Robot exhibit.  The first being a teeth counting activity. The second interactive activity will enable people of all ages to make a mould of an upper or lower set of teeth using modelling Lab-Putty.


The Chewing Robot replicates the human jaw, allowing it to generate wear formation on single dental elements.


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