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What does AI mean for your Dental Practice?

what does AI mean for your dental practice
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What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of computer softwares and technologies to perform human-like tasks, such as learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. AI has begun to be seen in various fields such as the automotive industry with self-driving cars and the technology industry with features such as virtual assistants and chatbots, meant to streamline work and query processes.

 

Why now?

AI has begun to take the world by storm and has seen an exponential increase in AI usage and development. The following reasons may account for some reasons behind its growth:

Growing amounts of data: With the increasing amount of data being generated every day, AI algorithms can analyze and derive insights from this data, helping businesses make more informed decisions. 

Advancements in computing power: The growth in computing power has made it possible to process large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. This has enabled the development of more advanced AI algorithms, such as deep learning. 

Automation Efficiency: AI can automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and processing, freeing up time for humans to focus on more creative and strategic work. 

Personalization: AI can now personalize experiences for users, such as recommending products or content based on their interests and behavior. 

Cost savings: AI can help businesses streamline operations and reduce costs by automating processes and identifying areas for optimization.

 

How is AI currently being used in the dental industry?

So how is AI currently being utilized with the dental industry today?

Improved Diagnostics and Treatment Planning

AI has found use in various areas within the dental industry, with some of the most prominent applications being in dental imaging, diagnosis, and treatment planning (Saito & Tsuchiya, 2020). AI has been particularly useful in dental imaging, where it has helped to improve the accuracy of imaging and reduce the radiation exposure to patients (Ren et al., 2020). 

One of the most common applications of AI in dental imaging is in the interpretation of dental X-rays. AI algorithms have been developed to automatically analyze dental X-rays to detect abnormalities, such as cavities and periodontal disease, that may be missed by human dentists (Wang et al., 2021).

Efficient Workflow and Patient Management

AI can also improve the efficiency of dental workflow and patient management. AI-powered software can automate routine tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and billing. This automation can reduce the workload of dental staff, enabling them to focus on providing quality care to patients. Additionally, AI can improve patient communication by providing personalized treatment recommendations and education. 

Workflow Optimization

AI can also optimize the workflow in dental practices, improving efficiency and patient outcomes. AI-powered scheduling systems can help dental offices manage appointments, while automated reminder systems can increase patient recall and reduce the likelihood of missed appointments. AI can also assist with inventory management by predicting the demand for dental supplies and equipment, reducing waste and optimizing purchasing decision.

Is adopting AI practices expensive?

The cost of implementing AI technology in a dental practice can vary depending on the specific solution chosen and the size of the practice. However, it is worth noting that AI technology is becoming increasingly accessible and cost-effective, making it more affordable for small and medium-sized practices to adopt (Ren et al., 2020).

For instance, some AI solutions, such as natural language processing chatbots for patient communication, can be relatively inexpensive and easy to implement (Saito & Tsuchiya, 2020). On the other hand, more complex solutions such as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems for creating crowns and prosthetics may require significant upfront investment in hardware and software (Wang et al., 2021).

In addition to the cost of the AI technology itself, there may also be additional expenses associated with staff training and ongoing maintenance and support (Saito & Tsuchiya, 2020). It is important to conduct thorough research and budgeting to determine the cost of implementing AI technology in a dental practice. Also, consider consulting with a technology specialist who can help evaluate options and determine the best solution for a practice’s needs and budget (Ren et al., 2020).

 

How can my dental practice start to implement AI?

Adopting new technology and AI can be a game-changer for dental practices. Here are some next steps for dental practices wanting to start adopting new technology and AI: 

  • Identify practice’s needs: 

Before adopting any technology, it’s important to identify the areas where a practice needs improvement. Is an analog system still in use to keep track of patients? Is there a need for help with patient communication? The identification of a practice’s needs will help them choose the right technology to adopt.

  • Research available technologies: 

Once you have identified needs, research the available technologies that can help a practice meet those needs. Look for technologies that are specific to dentistry and have a proven track record of success. After researching the available technologies, choose the one that best suits the practices needs. Consider factors such as cost, ease of use, and compatibility with existing systems. 

  • Ensure staff are trained:

Once a chosen technology is ready to be adopted, ensure that staff is trained by the provider on how to use it. Make sure they understand the benefits of the technology and how it will help them in their day-to-day tasks.

  • Implement the technology: 

After staff are trained, implement the technology. Make sure it is integrated smoothly into the practice’s workflow. After implementing the technology, monitor its effectiveness and evaluate its impact on the practice. Make adjustments as needed to ensure the practice is getting the most out of the technology. 

AI is transforming the dental industry in significant ways. Its applications range from aiding in dental imaging, diagnosis, and treatment planning to automating routine tasks, reducing workload, and improving patient communication. Despite the potential cost of implementing AI technology, it is becoming increasingly accessible and cost-effective, making it more affordable for small and medium-sized practices to adopt. As technology continues to evolve, dental practices that adopt AI will be better positioned to maintain a high-quality level of care.

 

Written by: Catherine Szarek

 

Articles being used:

Schwendicke, Fet al, W. Samek, and J. Krois. “Artificial intelligence in dentistry: chances and challenges.” Journal of dental research 99.7 (2020): 769-774. 

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022034520915714 

Hung, Kuofeng, et al. “Current Applications, Opportunities, and Limitations of AI for 3D Imaging in Dental Research and Practice.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 12, June 2020, p. 4424. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124424.

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/12/4424

Shan, T., F. R. Tay, and L. Gu. “Application of artificial intelligence in dentistry.” Journal of dental research 100.3 (2021): 232-244.
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022034520969115 

Pethani, Farhana. “Promises and perils of artificial intelligence in dentistry.” Australian Dental Journal 66.2 (2021): 124-135.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12812

Grischke, Jasmin, et al. “Dentronics: Towards robotics and artificial intelligence in dentistry.” Dental Materials 36.6 (2020): 765-778.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0109564120300762

Zheng L, Wang H, Mei L, Chen Q, Zhang Y, Zhang H. Artificial intelligence in digital cariology: a new tool for the diagnosis of deep caries and pulpitis using convolutional neural networks. Ann Transl Med. 2021 May;9(9):763. doi: 10.21037/atm-21-119. PMID: 34268376; PMCID: PMC8246233.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8246233/ 

Agrawal P, Nikhade P. Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry: Past, Present, and Future. Cureus. 2022 Jul 28;14(7):e27405. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27405. PMID: 36046326; PMCID: PMC9418762.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9418762/ 

Saito, H., & Tsuchiya, H. (2020). Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry. International Journal of Oral-Medical Sciences, 18(2), 33-37.
https://doi.org/10.20460/ijoms.2020 ;

Ren, S., Yang, Y., Li, Y., Li, Y., Li, G., Li, T., Li, X., Li, J., & Zhao, Y. (2020). Applications of artificial intelligence in dental and oral medicine. Journal of Healthcare Engineering, 2020, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8865748 ;

Wang, Q., Zhao, J., Chen, Y., & Cao, P. (2021). Applications of artificial intelligence in dental and oral medicine. Journal of Healthcare Engineering, 2021, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/3381048.

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