Artificial Intelligence: How Smart Is It?
Executive Editor Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT | firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent news regardingartificial intelligence in dentistry has created much speculation—as well as some anxiety—about how it may affect the future of the profession, both on the clinical side and in the laboratory. These concerns are rooted in lack of knowledge of the technology, and I strongly believe that the best way to dispel these anxieties is by learning about the topic at hand, thereby eliminating any ambiguity and potentially identifying opportunities and solutions that will enhance the laboratory's services and competitive advantage.
Artificial intelligence has become a significant part of many international sectors as we optimize efficiencies in everything we do. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, artificial intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. However, for AI to work, there needs to be significant accumulated data the computer can draw upon to derive the conclusions desired. These conclusions are based on coding and algorithms commanding the system to generate the probability of an outcome.
Artificial intelligence has many applications in dental and medical science, and breakthroughs in the evolution of artificial intelligence are rapidly gaining the attention of researchers across the globe. According to a recent article in the Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research written by Divya Tandon and Jyotika Rajawat, the huge increase in documented patient information can be used by intelligent software to compile and process data from a patient's history to produce new data for diagnosis and design.1 Dental laboratory technology and restorative dentistry have entered the realm of artificial intelligence specifically through digitization of the fabrication process. AI works best when it has a robust aggregate of data points, which means it will only get better and more accurate with time. An aggregate of patients' intraoral scans gathered over the years can be used to identify abnormalities, determine occlusal or bite destructive functions, and assist in designing a crown from thousands of similar scans. However, despite the great potential of this technology, the authors underscored that artificial intelligence cannot replace the role of a dental professional in any case. Therefore, it is important to become acquainted with the scope of AI technology in order to integrate it into current workflows and make the most of these advancements for the improvement of dental protocols. It is essential for forward-thinking dental laboratory owners and managers to keep a close eye on new technology, engage with it, and learn how to best utilize its benefits for their laboratories, their clientele, and their patients.
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1. Tandon D, Rajawat J. Present and future of artificial intelligence in dentistry. J Oral Biol Craniofac Res. 2020;10(4):391-396.