We have heard a great deal about how artificial intelligence will change every industry out there, and dentistry is no different. Dentists are beginning to use artificial intelligence as part of their jobs for analysis and planning.
Some patients may worry that this may mean that their dentists like Drescher & Cohen DDS may be entirely replaced by a robot. But AI plans to augment and support dentists, not remove them. Here are just a few examples, as well as some of the challenges dentists and their patients might face with this new technology.
At its core, much of artificial intelligence and machine learning is looking at huge swathes of data and drawing a conclusion based on said data. That is exactly what dentists must do throughout much of their day. Is that discolored tooth a cavity? What kind of cavity, and what sort of treatment will be needed to keep the patient healthy?
AI programs like those created by the dental AI company Pearl can help diagnose such conditions by working alongside dentists. If a dentist and an AI each have a 95% chance of detecting a cavity, then the odds that a cavity will be missed decreases from 1 in 20 to 1 in 400. Two heads are better than one.
In addition to improving the accuracy of data analysis, AI can make the process faster and more efficient. This means time and money can be saved, but it also means that dentists can analyze data which they might otherwise overlook.
A major example of this are oral lesions, which are often an early warning sign for oral cancer. Artificial intelligence could potentially look at pictures of mouths, determine whether there is a lesion, and whether that lesion is benign or not. The technology is not quite there yet, but it is likely only a matter of time until it is perfected.
However, there are major challenges to the adoption of AI beyond technology.
Perhaps the biggest immediate concern is the matter of data collection. No matter how good an AI might be, garbage data will mean garbage analysis. It is important for dentists to thus gather quality data, often through publicly available data sets.
Yet in gathering such data, dentists could run into privacy concerns. Collected data must either be anonymized or collected with the patient’s explicit consent, and then there are concerns about how the data can be kept safe.
Supportive, not Competitive
There has been a great deal of ink spilled over the fear that AI will drive humans out of work. But often, AI will play a supporting role for professionals like dentists. AI can help dentists and patients alike get better results and treatment under the idea that two heads are better than one.
The technology for dental AI is not fully developed yet, and there are still inaccuracies in determining results. But in time, AI will be a partner to dentists, helping create better, faster results which will help both patient and dentist alike.