AI Dentistry: How Technology is Changing The Way We Care For Our Teeth

We’re always eager to mitigate the appearance of our perceived imperfections, and dental hygiene has taken on a brand new element of importance with patients keen to show off the brightest smile that they can muster without the presence of any crookedness or imperfections. 

Unfortunately, it can be tricky to guarantee that our teeth will remain immune from daily wear and tear – as well as the staining effects of wine, coffee and tobacco. 

(Image: Raconteur)

The global cosmetic dentistry market is forecast to attain a value of nearly £30bn by 2024, and a heavy portion of this accelerated growth will come from the development of advanced technologies that will be designed to make teeth whitening much more effective and efficient for patients. 

One of the key factors behind these developments will be artificial intelligence. AI will evolve to form a symbiotic relationship with dentistry, healthcare, and a whole host of other industries over the course of the decade as the Internet of Things really begins to take off. However, to take a proper look into the future of AI’s role within dentistry, let’s see some of the key ways in which the technology will not only contribute in making our teeth appear whiter but also how it will ensure that our teeth remain physically healthy, too:

Intelligent Toothbrushes

AI has developed into an irresistible technology for healthcare and dental organisations alike in recent years, so it’s largely unsurprising to see artificial intelligence already arriving onto the dentistry market

Intelligent toothbrushes are beginning to arrive on shopping sites and high street shelves are gradually more affordable prices. One of the early market leaders in this respect is Oral-B’s Genius X electric toothbrush – available from £170 and bursting full of innovation. 

(Image: Big Data Made Simple)

The effect of AI within global healthcare markets will develop exponentially as the 2020s continue, and it will offer users the chance to give their teeth a cleaning experience that – for the first time ever – will be intelligently comprehensive in a way that can lead to healthier and whiter teeth. 

To do this, the toothbrush connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and gets to work mapping the inside of a users’ mouth while learning which areas appear to be subject to more neglect as brushing takes place. The app can also display a timer that helps to regulate brushing times while offering advice on how best to position the device to deliver a more complete cleanse.

In addition to this, AI toothbrushes can use sensors to understand when too much pressure is being applied or where an area isn’t receiving enough of a clean and relays data in real-time to the app in order to display a summary of a user’s cleaning performance. The app can even provide ratings based on the quality of brushing from the user – a great way to gamify healthcare or provide children with more motivation to reach higher scores. 

Naturally, the act of brushing our teeth is a key way of ensuring that we maintain a level of dental hygiene that keeps our teeth and gums healthy. But what about for those of us who need AI to diagnose damage to our teeth? 

AI Decay Detection

Amazingly, an artificial intelligence system outperformed dentists when it came to carrying out diagnoses on bitewing and periapical radiographs, according to a study carried out by Pearl

The study took three experienced dentists and an AI system and got them to analyse 8,767 bitewing and radiographs to check for the presence of tooth decay, and ultimately the machine intelligence proved to be more consistent and accurate than its human counterparts at predicting where tooth decay is likely to be. 

As well as validating the performance of the AI dental radiology system, Pearl noted that the study actually exposed a lack of consensus among the dentists present. While there was unanimous agreement 79% of the time in recognising the absence of decay, they only managed to agree about the presence of decay in 370 of the X-Rays they were shown – only 4.2% of the total they assessed

In addition to this, in almost 20% of the instances, even when two dentists identified decay in an X-Ray, the third dentist did not. 

Speaking on Pearl’s findings, company CEO Ophir Tanz said: “Our intention in producing this study was simply to demonstrate the efficacy of computer vision machine learning diagnostics in dental radiology, but the secondary findings dredge up a major deficiency in dental healthcare.”

“Fortunately, the study’s findings also point to a solution. The machine’s diagnostic performance shows that AI is capable of infusing consistency into the bedrock of dental care,” Tanz concluded.

AI Driven Smiles

It’s fair to say that AI will continue to influence a wide range of areas associated with dentistry. From aiding human cleansing habits to assisting the diagnosis of tooth decay, AI will undoubtedly make its presence felt in the wide world of cosmetic dentistry and teeth whitening before long. 

It’s likely that eventually, laser whitening treatments can use intelligent technology to effectively map teeth out and ensure that isolated stains can be treated to ensure a patient’s entire mouth can develop a consistently white look. 

For now, we’re fortunate enough to have a range of effective alternatives to enjoy before the machines continue to take over. For instance, Crest 3D Whitestrips are cutting edge in the sealing technology it relies on to ensure a consistently white look, while activated charcoal can assume a more natural take on the LED-based home whitening

As the world of dental cosmetics continues to hurtle towards a market value of £30bn, it’s clear that AI will play an invaluable role in creating more value within the market. Bundled with Internet of Things technology that can guide users to healthier brushing, and the innovative foresight to identify tooth decay more efficiently than industry professionals, the future’s bright – and it’s going to make our teeth brighter as a result. 

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