SUNSET HILLS, Mo. – One St. Louis-area doctor has an extra helper to make the process for dental implants faster and safer. Chances are, you won’t find it much elsewhere.
Dr. Justin Schlaikjer is a periodontist who has served the Sunset Hills community since 2011. Last year, he got the green light to use the only FDA-approved dental robot for implant surgeries.
Schlaikjer’s team is the first in Missouri to use the Yomi Robotic Dental system from Neocis Inc. Yomi is a computerized navigational system that provides guidance and assists doctors with planning and surgical phases of implants.
“The whole purpose is to ensure that the patient care is as optimal as possible,” said Dr. Schlaikjer. “It largely hasn’t been much of a marketing aspect. It’s really just a patient-focused investment.”
Yomi has helped Schlaikjer’s team with more than 200 surgeries, averaging around one implant surgery per business day since the launch last July. Implants are oftentimes conducted in two stages on separate days, but Yomi’s services allow dental teams to finish the full process in around an hour.
Schlaikjer says Yomi is designed to help make dental implants less invasive and avoid errors that might happen from free-hand practices.
First, the human dentist collects x-rays, CBCT scans and other information to enter into the software. Then, the system provides a virtual demonstration on the desired location for the implant.
Once approved by the human dentist, the software locks that location into its memory. Yomi then takes its place around the patient and extends a robotic arm, which holds a surgical instrument like a drill. The human dentist holds the arm of the robot for support, then the implants begin.
“When we get situated in the patient’s mouth, and we get to that location where we’re placing the implant, the robot knows where we are in space,” said Schlaikjer. “It locks in the angulation of the drill, and it will not allow us to deviate from that.”
Additionally, the systems can pinpoint the depth of an implant by the millimeter, an important feature to avoid harm to nerves and other sensitives structures of the mouth.
“Implants go in fully-guided, and we get incredibly predictable implant dentistry with it,” said Dr. Alex Ahmadi, who also helps Dr. Schlaikjer with many implant procedures. “It’s been an incredible asset.”
From a patient standpoint, Yomi has a built-in tracking and feedback system that detects any abnormal movements that happen during the procedure. To maintain the accuracy of the treatment, the system responds by adjusting and altering the prescribed cutting position, depth and angulation.
Yomi also offers a screen that patients can glance at in real-time for reference.
“You can actually see a digital version of the drill and the patient’s skull on the screen,” said Ahmadi. “They can see what we’re doing as we’re doing it.”
Trips to the dentist might come with unease or anxiety for some. Schlaikjer is hopeful that Yomi helps improve that experience, and says many of his patients are fascinated by it.
“Some people are interested in the technology aspect of it,” said Schlaikjer. “Other people are more interested in the fact that it makes things a lot more accurate, and it removes any margin of error. Each person finds their own value in the technology.”
Penny McIlroy and Alayne Smith, two St. Louis-area residents who recently received implants with help from Yomi, say they would recommend the robot-aided procedures to family and friends in need.
“I had an implant done before without the robot,” said McIlroy. “Coming in for another one and having the robot, I actually liked it. It didn’t feel different, and it wasn’t more painful or less painful. It was interesting because they could get it down to a closer millimeter. That really helped them aim more at what they were doing.”
“It’s not like a backup, but it’s like two dentists are working on you, the robot dentist and the human dentist,” said Smith. “The robot was telling Dr. Schlaijker what to do, and he just couldn’t make a mistake.”
Schlaikjer says the Yomi software is constantly evolving and could provide patients with a full-arch dental implant in around 90 minutes.
For more insight on Yomi from Dr. Schlaikjer and Dr. Ahmadi, click here for their joint interview from March 16, 2023.
To learn more about the procedure or to potentially schedule a Yomi-guided appointment, click here or contact Justin M Schlaikjer DDS Periodontics and Implant Dentistry at 314-729-7840.