You often hear people talking about how artificial intelligence(AI) in dentistry will take over jobs from humans. Will it though? For starters, are you willing to go to an orthodontist and let only the machine operate on you without any human intervention? For some, just the thought of going to a dentist is scary, and if you are to be operated on only by a machine then that’s a big NO! Regardless, artificial intelligence in dentistry has become pretty common now.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) practices are being integrated into the dental industry for quite some time now. There are a lot of things that machines can do better than humans, making their job easier for them. A few simple machine learning algorithms in a tool can do most of the stuff and reduce a lot of effort along with improving efficiency.
So, here we are going to discuss how machine learning and AI are transforming the dental industry one day at a time.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry
The world is very much aware of what AI is, but a few out there are still unfamiliar with machine learning. The term machine learning is self-explanatory as it states machines that learn. Well, as long as you provide them with some data or input to learn from. Now, the learning part is not as simple though.
There are many complex algorithms(Linear/Logistic regression, Decision tree, K-means, Naive Bayes, etc) that allow machines to learn, predict, and behave as humans do to solve problems and perform functions. Here, machine learning can mean many things, not just a modern C3PO behaving like a human.
You are searching on google for a pair of Jordans. After a few minutes, you see an ad on your Instagram showing you a good pair of Jordans. This too is machine learning. Speech and face recognition, predictive analysis, and AI voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are a few other examples of machine learning in our daily life.
If we talk about AI in dentistry then we have to cover a lot of ground as there are multiple fields in dentistry. One example that comes to mind is dental imaging. We have had X-rays taken at least once in our lifetime. While these X-rays are easier to understand for any other part of the body, it is a bit difficult to get the right diagnosis when it’s your mouth. Especially when doctors use 3D models.
If you employ machine learning techniques in dentistry, the process becomes a lot easier.
How Does Machine Learning Help in Solving Dental Problems?
To draw the right conclusions with radiographs, dentists need to have years of experience. But when you do it with machine learning, there is no room for error. So, how does this work? Well, first you have to provide multiple data sets to your computer that shows various diseases and problems with teeth. This data set should show both healthy and unhealthy dental reports of a patient.
Now, when you enter a patient’s diagnosis report, it will examine the report against previous data sets in the system. There are certain patterns associated with the anatomy of your mouth (both healthy and unhealthy). Based on those patterns, the computer will then conclude whether the patient’s teeth/gums are normal or has any disease.
Similarly, you can find out all kinds of dental problems. This is as long you have the right data to provide to your computer. This method is called Supervised learning in machine learning. It is one of the many algorithms you can find in ML. Even we at BPK Tech, use machine learning and AI to support dental practices and DSOs.
Make no mistake though, AI is not here to replace dentists or any other human in the dental industry. It is here to merely improve the process and how dentistry functions. Imagine AI in dentistry as nothing but a helping hand.
Branches Where Machine Learning and AI in Dental Industry are Shining
It might be a little difficult for some to comprehend that their go-to dental practice might be using a machine to treat them. Nevertheless, it is very much possible. In fact, many dental practices have started to integrate AI in dentistry to treat dental problems. In this section, we will see where you might find machine learning and AI integrated into your usual dental practices.
Some of the branches of the dental industry that we are going to talk about here are Orthodontics, Periodontics, Endodontics, and Oral disease.
We’ve all been to an Orthodontist at least once in our life. It could be about your jaw management or the usual, getting braces for teeth alignment. So, how does AI or any of the ML algorithms help here? We all know that any kind of teeth or jaw alignment needs to be precise. Otherwise, you end up looking weird.
With the help of AI in dentistry, especially here in Orthodontics, dentists can use analytics and predictive analysis for teeth and jaw adjustments. Thus making for a fail-proof treatment. An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) is one such machine learning algorithm modeled after the biological neural network.
This algorithm is specifically used for tooth extraction procedures where the model predicts the extraction pattern and does the procedure. You can read more about Orthodontics treatment planning with ANN in this paper.
Periodontics is a few of those common diseases that trouble many people. Ever seen swollen red gums? Well, that’s a periodontal disease caused by bacteria. This will cause insufferable pain in your gums leading to inflammation and if unchecked, eventually causing tooth decay.
Dentists can determine how advanced the disease is by using a technique called Depth Probing. Depth probing is something that is done to check the depth of a tooth’s pocket. However, AI is starting to play a role in helping to detect these diseases earlier. In the first case, Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) can perform image classification and image segmentation on radiographic images of periodontally compromised teeth. They then identify patterns and perform edge detection to determine the stage of the disease.
You have probably heard about endodontics if you ever went to a dentist to get a root canal treatment. If not you, at least someone in your family might have gotten a root canal treatment. This is because root canal treatments are very common, and almost 41,000 people in the US get root canal treatments every day.
With the integration of AI in dentistry, root canal treatment becomes easier as AI helps in studying the anatomy of root canal treatment. That’s not it, if you use Deep Learning algorithms then dentists can find, identify, and classify the anatomy of root canals. Other than root canal treatments, AI in dentistry allows for the detection of any kind of root fractures, or peripheral lesions(with 92% efficiency), helps in endodontic surgeries, and many other things.
With such a powerful AI application, the dental industry can be revolutionalized to obtain precision and a fail-proof method for endodontics or any other diseases. You can learn more about the artificial intelligence applications in endodontics from this article.
AI in Dentistry to Help with Oral Disease
While there are a lot of oral diseases that can be traumatizing for a human, there’s one disease, in particular, that’s just difficult to recover from. It’s oral cancer. The survival rates for oral cancer aren’t very high unless it is in the early stages. There’s a 5-year relative survival rate that provides stats on how likely a person is to survive up to 5 years after a diagnosis of oral cancer when compared to a person with a similar patient.
You can learn about the 5-year relative survival rate from this article. Similarly, there’s the oral cavity disease, which is also the cause of many deaths. According to a most recent study by the American Cancer Society, there have been about 11,230 deaths in 2022 so far, due to oral cavity and oropharyngeal. So, how can artificial intelligence or machine learning in dentistry help here?
Remember we talked about how AI can help find certain patterns for diseases? It’s the same thing here. Almost every oral disease, especially oral cancer caused by Oral Potentially Malignant Disorders (OPMD)– a strong indicator of cancer– is easy to find as they have a pattern. Using AI and ML algorithms in finding such patterns through diagnostic images and clinical data in usual dental checkups can help detect a few early signs.
Unfortunately, at this moment, this isn’t a viable option. That’s because no AI or ML algorithm is 100% successful in detecting oral cancer. Though it does help with other diseases like maxillary sinus diseases, salivary gland diseases, dental caries, and a few others.
Advantages of Using Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry
While every technology comes with an upside and a downside, let’s discuss the advantages of using AI in dentistry.
- AI can skyrocket your practice’s efficiency.
- ML and AI algorithms will help you find early signs of diseases. Diseases like maxillary sinus and others with dental imaging.
- Machine Learning in dentistry, especially ML tools, will allow dentists to find signs of tooth loss and anyone who is at high risk from the same.
- Better accuracy in providing a diagnosis.
- With the help of AI in robotics, dental surgery becomes easier.
- Some other benefits include the integration of AI chat and virtual assistant for continuous support, scheduling integration, and shorter procedure times.
These are just a few of the advantages of AI and machine learning in dentistry.
The applications of AI and ML in the dental industry are vast. And it’s not possible to talk about them all here. So, we picked a few interesting ones to talk about and included them in this article. Each area of the dental industry be it Orthodontics, Periodontics, or any other can benefit a lot from Dentistry AI applications. And it’s just a matter of time when even more applications are included in dentistry to completely transform it.
In the meantime, check out our previous articles about Types of Data Warehouses and Why you need a Dental Data Warehouse. BPK Tech Data warehouse solutions will simplify your DSO or solo practice problems and completely transform the way you store data and generate business insights. Book a consultation call to find out how.