Over the past years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been making breakthroughs in the healthcare industry. However, some dental professionals meet the thought of working with robot dentists with a mixture of amusement and fear. But the truth is, AI is helping dentists discover new and effective ways to improve their practice and provide better care to their patients.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex software designed to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as problem-solving. Some examples of how AI is used in dental clinics include convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and artificial neural networks (ANNs). CNNs are used for image diagnostics and analyzing visual images, while ANNs detect specific patterns in data and teach machines to identify those patterns. Other uses for AI in dentistry include:
1. Detection of dental decay
Dental caries are usually identified using dental radiographs and physical examination. Radiographs can provide an initial objective assessment; however, incipient decay, tooth morphology, recurrent decay, and margins of restorations can only be determined by tactile sensation, which can vary among dentists. AI can fix this by offering a more streamlined diagnostic process. For example, CNNs can spot dental decay by learning the morphology and location of carious lesions found on radiographs. Through deep learning, CNNs can even predict dental caries while analyzing digital images.
2. Detection of oral cancer
AI can also detect and diagnose oral cancer. Mobile applications have been developed to capture images of oral lesions for remote diagnosis. AI is being integrated into these applications to help segregate images with and without signs of oral cancer. Additionally, the algorithm used by this type of AI will have the capability to categorize oral lesions as benign, potentially malignant, and malignant. This allows dentists to detect oral tumors in their early stages and prevent malignant changes or provide patients with an effective treatment plan.
3. Leveraging natural language processing (NLP)
Natural language processing is a computer program capable of recognizing, analyzing, and processing human language to perform specific tasks. NLP systems work similarly to Amazon's Alexa platform and are being utilized as add-ons to dental imaging software used for taking digital radiographs.
A dentist will tell the system what needs to be done, and the system will analyze and process the verbal command and perform the said task. This allows dental practitioners to capture, view, and compare digital radiographs hands-free. NLPs can significantly improve your dental clinic's workflow by decreasing the time a patient spends in a chair, enhancing infection control protocols, and optimizing diagnostic processes.
Non-dental applications of AI
AI is also useful for other processes involved in dental clinic operations, including:
1. Improving business operations
AI and machine learning can automate and optimize your dental clinic's scheduling process by interfacing with your dental practice software to track patient appointments. It checks a patient's preferred appointment and contacts that person through text, voice call, or email with a list of available times and days.
2. Using chatbots for real-time engagement
Dental clinics are only open during specific hours of the day, and some are closed during the weekends. During the times they are open, phone lines can get busy, resulting in current and potential patients having to wait until a staff member can accommodate them.
To solve this problem, some clinics are implementing chatbots on their websites and social media accounts to allow patients to make an inquiry without having to call the clinic directly. This is a great way for dental practitioners to provide round-the-clock support for their website and social media visitors.
Advancements in AI technology promises to revolutionize the way dental clinics operate and provide care to their patients. If you're looking to take advantage of this technology but don't know how, you need to partner with a trusted managed IT services provider (MSP) like Pact-One. Our dental IT experts will assist you in choosing the right equipment for your needs. Call us today to learn more.