Artificial intelligence in dentistry: Streamlining orthodontic care

Search Dental Tribune

Artificial intelligence in dentistry: Streamlining orthodontic care

In orthodontic care, professional opinion on whether or not teeth should be extracted is often divided. (Image: Jackie Niam/Shutterstock)

FARMINGTON, Conn., US: Many factors may influence therapeutic decisions in orthodontics. For example, orthodontists may sometimes inaccurately interpret scientific data, and whether or not they will perform an invasive treatment or tooth extraction may not be based on objective criteria. Seeking to streamline orthodontic care, researchers from the US have recently invented an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that will give a second opinion and help clinicians choose the best treatment options for patients.

Artificial intelligence has increasingly more applications in dentistry and can help dental professionals to improve the precision of diagnosis, treatment execution and planning, and daily management of the clinic. It can also help with patient virtualisation and has an enormous potential to enhance clinical workflows. In the field of orthodontics, AI can help improve the diagnostic accuracy of orthodontic treatments, thus improving the quality of work.

“If you get two orthodontists in a room, they will disagree on 50% of the patients they are diagnosing, to varying degrees,” Dr Madhur Upadhyay, an associate professor of orthodontics at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, said in a press release. “Everybody’s reading the same literature, but they are perhaps interpreting it in different ways. Artificial intelligence can do this job very nicely—assimilating the literature and then interpreting it in ways that are perhaps more accurate than how most of us will interpret it,” he added.

The novel algorithm uses data from a deep network of medical literature and expert decisions and indicates whether it agrees or disagrees with an orthodontist’s analysis, thus either validating the clinician’s diagnosis or pointing out a need for further consideration to determine the source of the discrepancy. In total, it provides 14 different primary and alternative treatment options.

Inaccurate diagnoses can result in dental problems such as jaw pain, bone loss and gingival recession, which may only develop years after prescribed treatment, making it difficult to establish a correlation. Dr Upadhyay believes that the AI tool could help steer clear of certain adverse effects of orthodontic treatment. “Suppose you took teeth out in a patient that did not need teeth to be taken out. Or suppose a patient required taking teeth out but you did not take teeth out. That can compromise the structural integrity of the teeth, the bone and the surrounding structures,” he commented.

Besides improving patient outcomes, the algorithm is planned to free up valuable time for providers, allowing them to diagnose more patients without compromising accuracy. The researchers have already sought the patentability and commercialisation of the AI algorithm.

“A significant amount of human power is wasted in doing mundane jobs like cropping figures, resizing figures, drawing some lines on them to interpret them—which are pretty basic things,” Dr Upadhyay noted. “A system should be automatically able to do it.”

Editorial note:

More information on the algorithm can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *