Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry
New tools can provide information to help technicians achieve better outcomes
Executive Editor Danial Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT | firstname.lastname@example.org
For several years now, we've been hearing the terms artificial intelligence and machine learning, and until recently, the concept felt much like science fiction, with many still uncertain as to how relatable it would be for dentistry, dental technology, and their patients' standard of care. Significant strides have been made in this arena, and several manufacturers have brought to market products deploying some form of AI technology, such as intraoral scanning technology that can eliminate inadvertently captured cheek tissue or unintended artifacts; the ability to identify dental carries while scanning; third-party specialized software that evaluates the quality of capture of the margins; and, recently, performing the design of simple single crowns, which ultimately is quality controlled by the originating laboratory and subsequently approved to manufacture. These advances are geared toward making technology execute better for its users and providing efficiencies as well as the ability to focus on critical matters more suitable for human interaction, while maintaining full oversight of the process.
On the clinical side, AI is being used to obtain critical insights on clinical decision making via software that will develop further and integrate AI algorithms to offer practitioners a way of finding the best treatment modalities for their patients, according to a 2020 piece by The Medical Futurist.1 The authors of a 2019 study published in Public Health Genomics write that with the exponential rise in health data and the maturing of healthcare AI, dental medicine is entering a new stage of its digitization.2 Such smart algorithms can be integrated within the healthcare system to analyze health data, research findings, and treatment techniques to offer diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations for individual patients.
With regard to dental laboratories, AI algorithms may also offer unique and interesting information regarding the materials and processes we use to restore the oral environment. Capturing important information at different intervals and then sequencing the outcomes and consequences to run through an evolving AI algorithm can provide the dental community with greater information and restorative protocols. Forward-thinking dental laboratory owners and managers should keep a close eye on these developments and engage with AI to further offer their clientele the latest and greatest restorative solutions backed by evidence-based and data-driven results. Artificial intelligence is technology that will become larger and more powerful as aggregates of data are accumulated, and engaging early on will offer the greatest benefits, as it continues to evolve and become a greater staple in all we do in the laboratory and in our lives.
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1. 9 Technologies That Will Shape The Future Of Dentistry. The Medical Futurist. https://medicalfuturist.com/the-amazing-future-of-dentistry-and-oral-health/. Published November 3, 2020. Accessed April 13, 2021.
2. Joda T, Waltimo T, Probst-Hensch N, Pauli-Magnus C, Zitzmann NU. Heath Data in Dentistry: An Attempt to Master the Digital Challenge. Public Health Genomics. 2019;22:1-7.