IDS 2023 put the rapid development of dental AI on display to the international dental community, but how far can this technology go?
Even before the first visitor set foot on German soil, it didn’t take any great vision to predict that dental AI might feature prominently at IDS 2023.
In the blink of an eye, AI has taken hold of the public consciousness. For many, the technology has gone from science fiction to jaw droppingly functional in under a year.
But while models like chatGPT 4 and Dall-E are as flashy as they are impressive, they’re the tip of a very large iceberg. AI has been quietly making its way into our everyday lives for years.
And Dentistry is no exception. Out of sight, there’s been a quiet revolution taking place in the profession.
At IDS 2023, all that changed. The dental AI revolution arrived – and in bombastic style.
What is AI?
IBM defines AI as the use of ‘computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind’.
It’s not a new technology for dental practices. AI is already doing a great job of supporting many processes in dentistry.
The imaging software that identifies potential carious lesions on your radiographs? Dental AI proudly in action.
The suggestions for restorations made by your chairside milling unit or CAD/CAM software? Again, powered by dental AI.
The chat clients that help visitors to your website book online or answers queries? Well… you guessed it.
But useful though these applications are, they’ve not had the same ‘wow’ factor of Chat-GPT. Until now.
Put simply, dental AI on show at IDS 2023 was everywhere. And at the biggest stands: for many, it was front and centre.
So what’s coming down the line?
Forget diagnostic assistance – that’s already here. (Though it’s only going to get better!)
The smart money is on diagnostic assistance that integrates with your practice management and calendar system to power predictive scheduling and prompts based directly on existing need and potential treatment.
The future is bright for treatment too. Guided surgery is only the starting point: surgeons can look forward to much more precise, detailed and, above all, dependable treatment plans coming through that can bring in multidisciplinary experience and best practice – even when the clinician may lack that knowledge themselves.
The possibilities in areas like complex oral and maxillofacial surgery are particularly promising. Take cleft lip operations, where Operation Smile and Microsoft have partnered on an AI-powered tool to improve outcomes. Comparing before and after pictures allows the AI to grade the result. Informing the surgeon about outcomes this quickly has a host of benefits but the end result is more predictable treatment by an order of magnitude. No mean feat for life changing surgeries such as these.
The future of dental AI
Applications like this are set to make a tangible difference to clinicians, but it’s in patient-facing apps where things get interesting. Perhaps the most visually exciting innovation at the whole show was the demonstration of AI-assisted smile demonstrations.
Smile mockups are nothing new – nor are digitally altered ‘sample smiles’. But these tend to either be time-consuming to produce physically, or visibly computer-generated.
They pale in comparison to seeing one unfold photorealistically in real-time video. Even in a world where Snapchat video filters run riot, an AI-powered smile makeover video can still astonish.
For so long, the promise of dental AI has remained in the future, just out of reach. But the step change in the technology is happening now. The evidence was there to behold on screens and stands at Cologne.
Let there be no doubt. Dental AI is here, and it’s ready to change the world.