In the past two decades, the world has made tremendous advances in technology and has affected many aspects of human life. Dental health has also benefited from technological advances. The intelligent toothbrush, virtual reality, laser technology, and 3D printing have fundamentally changed the dentistry landscape.
The next big topic in dentistry will be the use of artificial intelligence in diagnostics and treatment.
How is AI Currently Being Used in Dentistry?
In dentistry, AI is used for a wide variety of applications. For example, it is used in voice commands such as DEXvoice.
DEXvoice, created by Simplifeye and DEXIS is the “Alexa” for the dentist. DEXvoice is able to pull up things like x-rays, patient records and charts. The DEXvoice solution creates a “hands-free” approach and can ultimately speed up the work of a dentist, as the technician or assistant does not have to constantly try to find documents, x-rays and diagrams on the computer. It also makes the work area cleaner and safer as there is no need to put on and take off gloves to use the computer.
Anyone who has been treated for tooth decay by the dentist knows how painful the process can be. Isn’t it great if artificial intelligence can help make the treatment fast and less painful?
Interpreting X-rays and properly planning treatment are some of the most important skills a dentist must master. Still, they remain some of the most difficult skills to develop, especially because much of the images are not clearly visible with the naked eye. At the moment, AI is helping with caries detection.
ParallelDots, an AI company, launched a cloud-based AI application to detect cavities on dental x-rays. They named this new clinical device Dentistry.AI. The device contains thousands of X-ray images that serve as a data set.
The AI algorithm is trained to recognize patterns from this large amount of data. Another Industry 4.0 technology, blockchain, guarantees this data’s immediacy and validity to all the system participants.
AI enables better identification of tooth decay by analyzing bone density.
The correct interpretation of X-ray and 3D images requires a lot of experience, and the AI assistant makes work a lot easier, as millions of images have already been evaluated. The artificial intelligence algorithm, trained with thousands of X-ray images, achieves a high degree of accuracy in predicting tooth decay.
The AI has also brought us a smart assistant – the ChairFill program developed by MMG Fusion – that can help optimize dental practices schedule by contacting patients to coordinate treatments that have not yet been completed.
On the one hand, it is about finding out which types of patients dentists need at what times to fill the calendars as best as possible, on the other hand, it is about contacting and coordinating these patients.
The program works like an intelligent assistant. It can also be connected to the marketing system to start new patient marketing campaigns. Profit maximization strategies and algorithms are examined to determine which campaign is running and who it is aimed at.
Is Artificial Intelligence Already an Ally for Dental Health Care?
While these advances in dental care provide an outlook on what may be possible in the future in this area, some experts in the field such as Dr. Sunali S. Khanna and Prita A. Dhaimade, members of the National Academy of Medical Sciences in India, noted that advances still have many drawbacks and challenges to be overcome. For example, the high initial investment costs.
AI Recognizes Tooth Decay Better than Humans
Jaroslav Bláha reported that a group of dentists found only about 50 percent of caries cases in X-rays than AI. He was also able to show that AI is better able than humans to detect orthodontic landmarks on X-rays.
In some cases, AI systems already outperform humans. And even if the quality of AI were only as good as humans, its speed is already significantly higher today. By saving time and the associated cost reduction alone, AI systems will play an increasingly important role in dentistry in the future.
In addition to acquiring factual knowledge about diseases, a strong focus should be placed on the use of AI systems to support decision-making in dentistry. The aim should be to train the next generation of dentists to learn the basics of how decision support systems work in order to be able to understand their decisions and, if medically indicated, to counter them.
Looking Into the Future
The use of AI in dentistry has the potential to introduce solutions with personalized diagnostics more quickly. It will improve communication between doctors and patients and allow for an accurate analysis of patient tests.
The AI platform offers much more suitable alternatives for diagnosing patients. While the existing orthodontic CAD is performed manually by an operator according to the orthodontist’s instructions and may involve human error, the AI-based analysis will have an accurate setup with a precise diagnosis and prognosis before and after orthodontic treatment.
Personally, I hope that with the advent of artificial intelligence in dental health, visits to the dentist will in some ways, become more pain-free and stress-free.
I myself am the son of a dentist and already have experience with painful orthodontic treatment that lasted a total of 3 years. I know that dental visits that go wrong can have lasting psychological effects for many patients, children, and adults alike.
But it’s also exciting to think about the positive results that artificial intelligence and dentistry may have for dental health care in the future.
While AI systems are becoming more and more involved in people’s everyday lives and represent a meaningful and homogeneous addition to life, some challenges are associated with them.
People are afraid of change – including artificial intelligence. In this context, it is, therefore, essential that users always know why a particular decision was made. Understanding the reasons for decisions ensures not only transparency but also increases acceptance.
Another challenge of the future concerns the “distortion” of the data. The artificial intelligence-based on machine learning – can arrive at neutral findings, the output data must also be free of any kind of distortion.
In ethical and legal issues, in particular, we still have a long way to go before we can count on the use of strong artificial intelligence. According to Kreutzer, global agreements are necessary for this – but in view of the geopolitical situation, this seems to be a utopia.