A new device allows patients to self-monitor their oral hygiene and alerts them when it is time to visit the dentist or dental hygienist.
What looks like an electric toothbrush is actually a mini camera with which anyone can take microscopic pictures of their own teeth and gums. Within seconds, the images are interpreted in an app by artificial intelligence and provide information about accumulated calculus, stains, and inflamed gums. "The users immediately see how well they brush their teeth and which areas they neglect - often up to 40% of the teeth," explains Severin Stalder, founder of the ETH spin-off Zaamigo.
Artificial intelligence for prevention
Dentists have been using expensive cameras for microscopic images for 30 years. Up until now, they have interpreted these images themselves and used them to explain to patients where there are problems and where they should brush better. For the new Zaamigo device, experts analysed thousands of images. Based on these dental image interpretations, Zaamigo developed software using artificial intelligence that can now identify problem areas in the images within seconds.
Zaamigo’s innovative algorithms instantly analyse the cleanliness of teeth.
With the help of a few photos, the neglected areas are quickly identified. Unfortunately, not all teeth look as beautiful as the ones you see in the mirror. "Even dentists are surprised when they see their own teeth," says Stalder. The app also gives specific tips on how and where to brush better or whether a visit to the dentist is recommended.
"It is amazing how quickly changes can be seen", adds Stalder. “Calculus formation, for example, occurs within a few days. After a mere three weeks, the results of a professional cleaning may no longer be visible. Therefore, we recommend a weekly check-up to monitor possible changes and to be able to take corrective action.”
Who is Zaamigo’s camera for?
The device is easy to use for everyone. It makes most sense to use it on children so that parents can take the necessary measures in good time. "I see a big difference between my children's teeth, which I test regularly, and the teeth of children in the neighbourhood where Zaamigo has not been used in the past," observes Stalder. "It is definitely worth it". Incidentally, the children learn to brush their teeth properly at an early age, which is the best prevention for healthy teeth.
There are also dentists who use the device and the images for patient communication to make their work more understandable to non-experts.
Stalder emphasises, "Our goal is not to replace dentists, but to identify patients at risk." If problems are detected early, patients can save a lot of money. Zaamigo's camera is affordable and can be bought online in Europe and the US for iPhones and iPads.
Zaamigo has ambitious goals for the future: "We want to develop an artificial dentist with in-depth experience and provide advanced diagnoses in the future," explains Stalder. The idea is to detect caries, periodontal diseases or nocturnal teeth grinding. To do this, the images must be linked to other findings (e.g., X-ray images or bleeding gums after a tactile test) and then compared with the image data - a major but very exciting challenge.
For more information on Zaamigo, visit https://zaamigo.com/