How AI improves the trust and confidence of dental patients

How AI improves the trust and confidence of dental patients

Millie Morrison explains how embracing artificial intelligence in practice has nurtured the rapport and trust with her patients. 

Please tell us a bit about your AI journey

I do a lot of digital treatment planning so this involves looking at the predictability and reliability of tooth movements with clear aligner systems. I’ve always been quite interested in terms of that kind of digital experience.

With Invisalign, I’ve always taken photos as these can help you to see if someone is suitable for a particular level of treatment.

I’ve found that when I’m teaching other dentists, this is really helpful. AI is almost reverse teaching the dentist.

The dentist can get more confidence in terms of recognising the types of cases they should be taking on and teaching their brains to recognise which movements are more difficult, for example what 6mm crowding looks like compared to 7mm crowding.

In terms of AI, this is probably where things really started for me.

How has Pearl AI helped your dentistry?

I got introduced to Pearl and that pushes AI even further. It’s such an amazing tool as you don’t have to rely on your own brain by itself to make decisions. A lot of the time, some things will be clearcut and those decisions won’t really bother you.

But with things that are more borderline or involve second guesses, your doubts can be taken away when using Pearl. It verifies what you’re seeing and helps you to understand more about what you’re seeing.

Practitioners know what they’re looking for, but Pearl helps to fine tune your skills. You aren’t led by the AI but because you have a level of confirmation, whether it’s positive or negative, your eye then becomes that little bit keener. You are fine tuning what you can see.

Pearl has majorly improved confidence in diagnosis. We can be confident speaking to patients about what we see eg decay or no changes over the last six months, and the treatment plans we offer. It really has improved clinical confidence.

My general workflow has also got better – I review my radiographs with my own eyes but now I always double check with Pearl. It verifies what I have or haven’t seen before I talk to the patient.

In addition, it helps massively with patient communication. It adds that visual element to the appointment and highlights how the issues I’m discussing have been confirmed by AI.

For example, if there’s decay it is clearly marked out by Pearl and so the patient has more confidence in what we are telling them.

It’s no secret that the general population aren’t always trusting towards dentists so increasing that rapport and trust is very important.

Millie Morrison

What’s your favourite feature of Pearl?

My favourite feature is how it lets you know the percentage of caries – whether it is in enamel or dentine. It’s brilliant. If we think about how we treat caries now with a preventative approach, it means that we can have better verification and work out how far into the teeth tissue the lesion has progressed.

Therefore, it can give us a better indication of what type of treatment we should carry out, eg non-invasive etc.

When a patient who has a high risk of caries comes in again after a year, you can easily check on the progress and see if the lesion has been prevented from progressing further. You then have the numbers to compare it to – it’s in black and white for the patient to see!

Why would you recommend AI to other clinicians?

With everything in life, there are steps forward. There are people who embrace that change early on and people who embrace it later.

What I would say is that those who embrace it early on really get the most out of it. Not only do they see ways to involve it into their practice over a long period of time, but they are also part of a pioneering group who can change how things are done. They can feed back what is working and what isn’t working.

When you work with something for longer and longer, you just see more benefits.

It also sets you apart from colleagues! I work in London and there’s around six dental practices just in the building that I work in. Patients are looking for dentists who are different, who are ahead of the curve and who are embracing the digital world.

The rest of our lives are digital – why shouldn’t healthcare?

My recommendation would be to just do it. Ultimately, it will benefit you, your team and your patients. The sooner you do it, the more benefits you will see.

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