There is a definite role for greater diagnostic accuracy in dentistry with far too much reliance imposed upon how the patients feels.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in dentistry – from diagnosis to treatment planning – promises to provide more accurate and scientifically based data for better human health outcomes.
As much as I, as a dentist, value my own essentially human skills and ability to interact with patients I do think there is a place for AI in dentistry going forward. Nevertheless I do not want to see a clinic full of robots beeping and buzzing about the place in a cold and sterile environment. I greatly value the human to human contact between dentist and patient and see AI as an enhancement of that, never a replacement.
Computerised Diagnostic Tools in Dentistry
Technology has transformed our lives, especially over the last quarter of a century. AI is the next frontier that we are predicted to cross in the coming years. Diagnostic tools via AI will provide a valuable scientific input into the health service that we provide as dentists.
There have been great progressions in the diagnosis of radiographs and photographs, charting and treatment planning by artificial intelligence in a clinical setting. AI can provide standardised diagnosis based on coded human knowledge inputs in a variety of medical applications.
Smart Toothbrushes & Smart Phones Planning Treatments
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen AI supported software allowing patients to self-monitor in their own homes during emergency dental care situations.
Pearlii, which was developed by Dr Kyle Turner, an Australian oral health specialist, can provide fast check-ups via smartphones. The user takes photos of their teeth and oral cavity, which are then identified by the app as particular dental problems. There are, even, smart toothbrushes which track your brushing habits. What a wonderful world we live in!
Digital Designs for Accurate Replacement Teeth
Greater accuracy via AI is achieving terrific results in designing prosthetic teeth for restoration work. Virtual models and 3D scanning are enabling much finer reproductions for better fitting and comfort. This extends to crowns, inlays, onlays, and bridges for customised results. Digital recordings can produce incredibly accurate designs for replacement teeth. There will still be a place for the artistically driven dental laboratory technician but he or she will be greatly aided by these new technologies.
Machine learning and AI will definitely have a growing positive impact on Australian dentistry going forward into 2022 and beyond. As dentists we all should welcome the intelligent introduction of these enhancing technologies.
AI will not replace the dentist, as there is a long way to go before patients will be opening wide for a computerised arm bearing a whining electric drill or laser. It would take a lot of trust factor to have a machine with a drill in such an intimate and vulnerable part of our body as the human mouth. Small steps first with X-ray reading machines giving dentists a second opinion now coming online. Highly trained dentists and AI will need to work together to provide the best of both worlds to our clients.
HAL and MOTHER will be leaving the spaceship and coming to a dental clinic near you. It may sound the beginning of the most modern and technologically advanced dentistry ever seen. Pain may become a thing of the past. More accurate diagnosis via AI may see less unnecessary and invasive dental procedures like root canal treatments taking place. The dental pulp may become better protected and served by these more advanced levels of dentistry resulting in healthier and more natural outcomes for patients.
The precise and unwavering qualities of AI will be a boon for dentists and dental patients everywhere. Dental treatment plans will be supported by smartphone apps to help clients track their status at home. Neglect of your teeth will become a thing of the past. From diagnosis to treatment planning the artificial intelligence aspects of dentistry look shiny and bright.
“Good morning, Dave.”