The rise and rise of AI in dentistry

Luke Hutchings discusses how AI in dentistry has become a part of everyday working life within the profession and predicts this trend to continue.

Everyone practising dentistry today will do so with the support of artificial intelligence (AI). Whether you utilise a fully digital workflow or not, you will likely rely on a number of AI-supported technologies to communicate with and provide care to patients, and to run your business.

AI is becoming an increasingly transformative tool within dentistry, streamlining how the professional team works and improving the patient experience.

What’s all the hype about?

Put simply, AI makes our lives easier in practice while enhancing the quality of care we can deliver. For example, it is widely adopted within the diagnostic and treatment planning stages. In this context, it can help to ensure that nothing is missed from radiographs, highlighting anomalies and supporting the clinical decision-making process. The technology is essentially a second pair of eyes looking for potential areas of concern, affording greater confidence among dentists that they have identified everything they can from diagnostic images.

There is even emerging evidence that patients appreciate the reduced medical bias and improved diagnostic accuracy than come with AI-supported healthcare provision (Padgett, 2023) – although they still favour human interaction over completely automated care. The technology can also help to design the most appropriate treatment plan, using automated processes to make this phase of the treatment journey quicker and simpler.

The other area in which AI is being embraced by dentists is that of clinical record keeping. A vital yet arduous daily task, note taking requires a significant amount of time and can remove attention from the patient during a consultation when using traditional methods. There are a number of solutions now available that make this faster and easier for dentists, while also reducing the risk of litigation.

Some platforms offer note templates to follow during the appointment, ensuring nothing is missed, while others can provide an audio recording of the session for fully contemporaneous notes every single time. These provide a new layer of protection for the clinician should a patient complaint be made, delivering total peace of mind for the professional team.

What’s next?

Although no one has a crystal ball, it’s not a stretch to predict that AI will play an even bigger role in dentistry in the years to come. Its existing applications will expand and diversify, further improving both the patient and professional experience.

I would also expect substantial growth within the computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing space. This is a field that AI could really propel forwards, facilitating the automated manufacture of various devices and appliances for a highly efficient process in both the dental practice and lab. Initial research (Khadka et al, 2023) suggests that AI has massive potential in process optimisation, quality control and predictive maintenance.

Current proposals for AI-assisted milling machines are particularly interesting and I predict that the next generation of equipment will transform the way we do dentistry once again.

Whether you are an early adopter or not, AI-driven technologies are very much a part of our world today. Dentistry is fully integrated with this technology already and we will only see further development in the future.

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Padgett Z, Curiosity at Work. Outbreaks Near Me | SurveyMonkey Poll: AI isn’t disrupting healthcare – yet. July 2023. https://www. healthcare-yet/

Khadka B, Chouhan B, Madan AK. Artificial Intelligence and its relation with Computed Aided Manufacturing. Inter j Ad Eng Man (IJAEM). March 2023; 5(3); 297-306

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