The world of dentistry is always changing, taking on new & more advanced technologies to better care for patients. One technology has recently stood out in the news: Artificial Intelligence (AI). How this will affect dentistry will depend on the technology’s refinement but here are some preliminary possibilities & applications.
One major way dentistry is able to use AI is for diagnosis. Alongside other technology such as digital scanners, AI can help interpret data & highlight problem areas such as the early signs of cavities or gum disease. Dentists can now share care options with their patients more quickly & with greater accuracy While a dentist’s experience still plays a vital role in early prevention, AI can help spot early problems that are difficult to see, or where an existing problem is masking another early-stage issue. Not only does it help with accuracy, some reports have shown AI to be a cost-saving measure as well.
Another use for AI in dentistry is predicting outcomes of treatment. While not a crystal ball, AI can help identify possible issues with long-term care. It is also a great tool for simulating results. This is especially helpful in orthodontics, where patients are often eager to see what their smile could look like. As each person is different, patient input is still important, so be sure to share any & all concerns & medical details with your dentist as well. Combined with your dentist’s expertise & technological aid, patients can have a much better idea of how their smile will improve.
How AI Learns
AI continues to improve & its full application is still not known, but the concept of machine learning comes from entering vast amounts of data. This data helps form a basis of “understanding” for the computer so that it can predict more accurately what may go wrong with a patients’ oral health as well as spot what may currently exist. This inflow of data continues, helping form an even more accurate picture, & algorithms are refined to better & more efficiently interpret the data.
The Future Isn’t Robots
While AI’s potential as a tool is significant, it isn’t likely to replace your dentist. Combined with robots, AI can be used to assist or even perform certain procedures. However, the procedures still need to be programmed by human experts & tested to ensure their success. So even with automation on the rise, people will still play an important role in future applications. Furthermore, attitudes toward automation in healthcare are mixed at best. A Pew Research Center poll found that 60% of Americans surveyed would be uncomfortable with their provider relying on AI. In the same poll, 38% of people thought AI would lead to better treatment results, while 33% thought they would be worse. Based on those numbers, it would seem unlikely patients will want AI to play too large a role in their care for the time being.
Your dentist will be able to share information about any AI tools in their office & how they can help your oral health.