Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful technology, revolutionizing various sectors of the economy than we could ever imagine. One such sector witnessing significant advancements due to AI is the dental industry.
From diagnosis and treatment planning to patient care and administrative tasks, AI has made remarkable strides. It’s reportedly enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and patient outcomes. The latest advancements in technology do come with some drawbacks though, including its ethicality.
There are several types of AI that are moving into the dental space. The most obvious ones have to do with dental imaging. The main companies here are Overjet, Pearl, and Videa. They aid the dentist by pointing out caries, periodontal disease, endo problems and other items they may have overlooked.
In this article, we explore the transformative impact of AI on the dental industry, highlighting its key applications and benefits, along with some reasons why it’s causing hesitation amongst dental professionals
1. Enhanced Diagnostics and Imaging:
AI algorithms have proven to be invaluable in dental diagnostics and imaging. With the aid of deep learning techniques, AI can analyze digital dental radiographs, panoramic images, and intraoral scans, enabling more accurate and efficient diagnosis of dental conditions.
Image recognition algorithms powered by AI can quickly identify dental anomalies, cavities, fractures, and even early signs of oral cancer. This technology can help dentists detect and analyze complex images, significantly improve diagnostic accuracy, and plan a timely treatment approach.
Some may argue that we as a society are beginning to lean too heavily on AI technology, leading to less clinical skills and personal judgment.
The real key here is that it also shows patients that it isn’t just the dentist pointing it out, the software is also saying it. This is why one of Pearl’s products is called “Second Opinion.”
2. Precision Treatment Planning:
By using AI algorithms, dental offices are able to process vast amounts of dental data, including patient records, treatment histories, and scientific literature. By utilizing machine learning and data analytics, AI systems can help dentists develop personalized treatment plans based on individual patient characteristics and clinical evidence.
These AI-powered tools have the capability to analyze patient data, identify patterns, and provide valuable insights. In turn, this can assist dentists in making informed decisions and develop treatment strategies that maximize efficiency and optimize patient outcomes.
This poses the question though, to what extent are we allowing AI to create treatment plans? While it’s a nice tool to have, AI shouldn’t replace the opinion of a dental professional who has years of hands-on experience treating patients.
Virtual and Augmented Reality in Dentistry:
In conjunction with virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), AI is transforming how dentists train, educate, and communicate with patients. Virtual reality simulations enable dental students and professionals to practice complex procedures in a safe and controlled environment, improving their skills and confidence.
AR applications allow dentists to overlay digital information onto a patient’s real-time view, aiding in procedures such as implant placements, orthodontic treatments, and aesthetic restorations. These technologies could enhance precision, minimize errors, and improve patient understanding, improving treatment experiences.
It’s important to note that AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on. If that data is false or biased, that could potentially cause an inaccurate diagnosis or treatment plan.
3. Intelligent Patient Care and Monitoring:
Virtual assistants and chatbots powered by AI are increasingly becoming more popular in dentistry. These intelligent systems can provide patients with real-time guidance on oral hygiene practices, post-treatment care instructions, and appointment reminders.
They also have the potential to analyze patient data and monitor oral health indicators, such as brushing patterns or changes in gum health, enabling early detection of potential issues. By empowering patients to take proactive measures and providing continuous monitoring, AI enhances preventive care and promotes long-term oral health.
The company Dental Monitoring is using AI technology to monitor the movement of patient’s teeth who are undergoing ortho with clear aligners.
Can this same thing be done by a human? While AI is most likely the faster solution for these positions, how does a real life human factor into this monitoring?
That’s ultimately up to you to decide.
4. Streamlined Administrative Tasks:
AI automation is being used to streamline administrative tasks in dental practices. This can reportedly reduce the burden on staff and improve operational efficiency. AI-powered systems can handle appointment scheduling, patient reminders, and billing processes, allowing certain dental professionals time to focus on patient care.
Additionally, AI chatbots can give instant responses to frequently asked questions, potentially saving patients time.
Do remember though, AI software can be a patient communication tool. It helps the dentist, hygienist, or other team members explain to the patient more about why they are diagnosing and recommending treatment.
Some practices are using AI technology for their revenue cycle management to submit insurance claims, ensure they are billing for what they are doing, and then appealing claims.
Welcoming AI in Dentistry with Open Arms?
While the dental industry is benefiting immensely from the integration of AI technology, it’s crucial to keep in mind the effect it has on your staff and patients. From improving diagnostics and treatment planning to enhancing patient care and streamlining administrative tasks, AI is transforming the way dental professionals operate.
The American Dental Association (ADA) Standards Committee on Dental Informatics released a White Paper discussing the use of AI in dentistry. They cover its use in both a clinical and nonclinical setting. Click here to read it in full.
As AI continues to advance, we can expect further groundbreaking innovations that will shape the future of dentistry, ultimately improving oral health outcomes for individuals worldwide. But don’t forget that AI can never replace the human experience.