Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 12:47 UK

Mechanical mandible aids research

The robot was designed by University of Bristol student Daniel Raabe

A team of scientists from Bristol University has developed a "chewing robot" to enable them to understand the wear and tear that teeth undergo.

Testing new types of crowns and other dental fittings on human subjects is costly and time consuming.

But the new mechanical mandible is available to perfectly mimic the action of the human jaw.

Dr Kazem Alemzadehv 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 £2.5bn each year on dental materials to replace or strengthen teeth.

The robot jaw goes on display today at this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, in London.

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