Grads receive grant from USTAR to help fund water drill prototype

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans make about 500 million visits to dentists every year. Along those same lines, in 2008 an estimated $102 billion was spent on dental services.

These numbers alone are enough to make one close their eyes, dig their fingernails into the sides of the dentist’s chair and hold on for dear life. Add the screeching and grinding sound of a high speed drill, combined with the plumes of tooth smoke that emerge from your mouth, and needless to say, a trip to Dr. Smiley’s dental office is one that we’d rather soon forget.

Thanks to UVU, BYU and a group of local innovators, this experience may not be so unbearable after all.

WaterJet International, a start-up company run by recent UVU graduates, will receive one of 10 Technology Commercialization Grants awarded by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, to help complete a prototype of its Neptune Dental Water Drill.

The USTAR TCG program, derived from an allocation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, helps introduce groundbreaking technologies to market from Utah’s universities.

“The USTAR grant sets the groundwork for great things,” said WaterJet’s CEO and UVU alumnus Timothy Nelson in a press release. “We’re excited to bring this great technology to market. The grant, and the completed prototype it will provide, will make our business proposition more attractive to investors.”

The drill, which emits an ultra-thin jet stream of water mixed with particles of abrasive material, helps remove dental caries or cavities. The water stream is about as extremely thin (about the thickness of a human hair) and enables the drill to work with more precision, silence, and less heat and vibration than regular drills; thus providing dental patients with a better overall experience.

“The WaterJet application is an exciting example of collaboration by regional higher education to boost Utah’s business environment,” said Ian Wilson, Dean of the Woodbury School of Business in a press release. “UVU students have done the business development work, and BYU students did the technical work.”

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