Need For Future Artificial Intelligence-Based Dental Applications

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

As of 2017, there are more than 190,000 practicing dentists in the United States of America. In the year 2015, 84.7% of children aged 2-17 years and almost 64% of adults made a dental visit. The total US national dental expenditure was more than $115 billion in 2015 and is expected to rise in the years ahead. Currently, there are limited measures to reduce patient’s pain, revisits and the cost of healthcare.  What’s more interesting is that most of the current devices and applications are still focused on treatment and diagnosis while predictive analysis is still a little far from their current practice.

One day while sitting and waiting for my prescription medicines after getting a Root Canal treatment, I was thinking of what more can be done in the field of dental industry. What if there would have been an AI-based software that can predict times of pain and treatment priorities after taking X-ray and pictures of my teeth internally just like what manually DIAGNOdent does for finding cavities. What if there is a smartphone application that can take a snap of my teeth and can analyze my results and alert me about the right time of a dentist visit. What if the images taken at home can also be shared with a dentist via an app and can be further be enhanced from dental CAD systems using convolutional neural networks, one of the most successful machine learning algorithms for object recognition and analyzed using AI-based CAD for dental images.

Although there are many advanced dental mobile applications and devices, most of them are not as useful and lack diagnostics features in comparison with other medical industry applications.

 

Some of the available top most functionalities available now days are as follows-

  1. VELscope: VELscope is an exceptional kind of light used by dentists to detect cancer in the mouth.
  2. Invisalign: Invisalign is clear, practically invisible braces that can help to straighten your teeth.
  3. DIAGNOdent:  DIAGNOdent is a pen-shaped device that can help to find out cavities even hidden from Xrays.The laser fluorescence detector within the DIAGNOdent pen is a precise method for identifying fissure caries, proximal caries and periodontitis.

Imagine if there is an application that has a big data based server and dentists store their patient’s data including treatment therapy and diagnosis. What if further Image analysis tools are also included in it while AI does its role there by deep learning and predicting pain times and severity of an internal infection. This will not only help dentists to give a right date appointment but also avoid pain and suffering in patients.

In one of my other article I have mentioned “We, humans, have evolved from typewriter to big computer to PC to laptops to Ipads to iPhones in three decades only. While medical diagnostics industry has tried to evolve but couldn’t maintain its race in innovation as fast as it should be. The best time of AI implementation in medical diagnostics is now. With extinct of certain antibiotics, level to the rise of pharmaceuticals in the USA are some very simple examples to watch”. According to the 2016 Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence, “AI use in medicine will increase tenfold within the next five years.”

Won’t it be awesome when we will have AI encrypted Dentists software with all AI-based tools for imaging, diagnosing and treatment? Accurate predictions are critical in the future model of dentistry. As already published in various market research reports, the estimated global dental market will be approximately $36 billion by 2021. Hence this is a great opportunity to bring dental diagnosis based applications in POC and smartphone-based in patients hands just like diabetes tests. This will help the entire dental industry to grow at a much faster rate than what its predicted with current scenarios.

As I already wrote in prior articles, what I want to conclude from this article as well is we need a change in the dental treatment and diagnostics industry, transforming it into an applied category of growing digital health industry. Again, my article is not supporting AI to replace humans in general work areas but to boost dentists with extra powerful and applied tools to take care of our teeth in a better way.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Appreciate your efforts. As a final year dentistry student, i agree on not having enough AI in the field.
    But there are a few things i’d like to point out to make a more nuanced discussion.
    Every diagnostic tool has a set of parameters to define its accuracy of detecting disease and not detecting it, like sensibility and specificity. And every diagnostic tool has indications and limitations. ex. Diagnodent has a pretty good, but not good enough sensibility (around 67%), a bit better than x rays.

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