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06 November 2019

Artificial intelligence in dentistry

Lorenzo Breschi


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more and more part of our daily routine, from voice- powered personal assistants, like Siri and Alexa, to more underlying technologies such as suggestive searches and autonomously-powered self-driving vehicles. All these fascinating possibilities are turned into reality thanks to AI which allows machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. As it can be imagined, there are a lot of possible applications for AI also in the healthcare field, from the analyses of radiographic images and MRI scans to the assistance of doctors in remaining updated with the latest researches and protocols.
In every area of medicine, artificial intelligence might produce radical changes on services and possibilities provided to patients, thus increasing their expectations. Considering the number of new dental technologies, techniques and materials that are introduced every year, dentistry should easily become one of the first branches of medical science to address AI to conduct routine tasks and functions that can help dentists to be more efficient and successful, in order to reduce their overall workload and increase the relationships with patients. Artificial Intelligence, with the employment of large datasets including diagnostic results, treatments and outcomes, would be able to:
• measure the effectiveness of different treatment modalities associated with specific symptoms and anatomical conditions,
• improve the quality of the standardization processes,
• reduce all biases that are innate in human and not foregone in computers.

In every day dental practice, however, standardized procedures are not always followed. Indeed, every single case presents a variety of valid treatment options based on the clinician preferences and often a more objective evaluation could avoid persona interpretation of the collected diagnostic data. For these reasons, the application of AI is already a reality in orthodontics and implant surgery, where software is employed not only for the diagnosis but also for the treatment procedures. A part from facilitating the interpretation of data and the subsequent treatment choices, AI could largely improve the quality of life of the clinician itself. The addition of a voice command to the dental chair, for example, allows an easier control over the patient position without any physical input from the doctor; moreover the possibility of a working station able to analyze individual patients weight, vital signs, level of anxiety to alert the operating doctors in case of emergency are near to be designed. Therefore, AI based dentistry is not a myth anymore and is turning into reality.

The new generations of dentists will be active part of this revolutionary process and the dental community will have an urgent need for high-quality postgraduate programs to get used to digital technologies and to be able to use them for the benefit of the patients in daily practice.  

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