Yomi robot from Neocis offers Virginia implant surgery assist

Dr. Bryan Saunders uses the Yomi robotic-assistant for dental implants and is surprised by the pace the technology has advanced. (Matt Hamblen)

Robotic surgeries are not new, but robots and robotic-assist devices are expanding into new medical disciplines, including dental implant surgeries.

Miami-based Neocis has been rolling out what it claims is the first robotic guidance system for dental surgery called Yomi. https://www.neocis.com/technology/ The device was recently installed at a Harrisonburg, Virginia, periodontal and implant practice, Shenandoah Valley Implant Institute. That’s where I get regular cleanings.

I’m not a candidate for an implant, but was intrigued to see my local practice investing in a cutting-edge technology in an area of Virginia nearly three hours’ drive from Washington.  The practice has always been progressive, so I asked to take a peek at Yomi.

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My periodontist, Dr. Bryan Saunders, showed me Yomi and said he has successfully used it with its robotic arm many times for patient implant procedures. It is especially helpful for procedures involving multiple implants in a patient, he said.  Yomi guides a doctor’s hand based on settings the doctor makes in advance of a procedure with the help of a CT scan to get a precise angle and depth for drilling into bone.

The drill bit on the end of the Yomi extendable arm will stop its motion when it reaches a point near a patient’s sinus or nerve based on the scan and the plan, he explained. 

Yomi works by providing physical cues through haptics that guide a surgeon’s hand to the precise angle and location for a planned osteotomy, according to the Neocis web site. “Once in position, Yomi securely maintains hand piece trajectory, preventing unintended deviation from plan,” Neocis explains. “Should the patient move, Yomi tracks and follows patient motion. When the drill bit reaches planned depth, Yomi provides the dental surgeon with the solid confidence of a physical ‘hard stop.’”

Yomi robotic assist for dental implants
The Neocis Yomi robotic assistant for dental implant surgeries

Yomi provides distinct audio cues for each step in the process and a surgeon can obtain visual confirmation and data on the Yomi monitor. Neocis also advertises Yomi as providing a minimally invasive approach, which can lead to faster surgery and faster recovery with less pain for a patient.

“Yomi really prevents mistakes, it prevents errors and as long as the plan is correct, the implant will be in the right position,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ganales, a South Florida implant surgeon, in a video on the Neocis website.

Procedures are accurate and more efficient, especially for more involved cases, Dr. Saunders said.

In one example, Dr. Saunders said a patient was able to get six implants inserted in about 25 minutes with Yomi, a procedure that would have taken up to three hours under a traditional procedure.

Because it takes time to set up Yomi for each procedure based on CT scans of a patient’s teeth and jaw, Dr. Saunders said it is best used with multiple implants.  He prefers to continue conducting a single implant procedure without Yomi because of shorter set-up time, he added.

A graduate of Medical College of Virginia in 2015 and a certificate from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Periodontics and Implantology in 2018, Dr. Saunders said he had practiced on an early dental robot  in college several years ago but found it wasn’t precise enough to be practical for use in a dental practice. However, with an early tryout of Yomi, he was convinced of its precision and could then encourage members in his practice to buy one. 

“I tried to throw it off and it still worked fine,” he said of Yomi, gesturing how he moved back and forth front of the robot while holding the robot’s hand piece during the demo to see any impact.

Would he ever envision robots taking the place of dentists?   “Yes,” he said . “I’m surprised how  quickly the technology has advanced since dental school.”

Neocis first debuted Yomi in 2019.  The company is venture-backed with funding from Mithril Capital Management, Norwest Venture Partners and robotic surgery pioneer Dr. Fred Moll.

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