AI: The New Frontier
You’ve no doubt heard about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in various industries. While some think it’s a revolutionary change in how we will live our lives, others have concerns. Is AI accurate? Can it be biased? Will it replace humans? AI has made its way into dentistry and dental hygiene and can potentially be used in clinical practice in a variety of ways, including:
- Diagnosis and treatment planning. AI can be used to analyze dental images and data to help dentists and hygienists diagnose oral diseases and conditions, such as caries, periodontal diseases, and oral cancer. AI can also be used to plan treatment for patients, such as recommending the best course of action for removing plaque and calculus or for replacing missing teeth.
- Patient education. AI can be used to create personalized educational materials for patients about oral health and hygiene. This can help patients to understand their own oral health needs and to develop better oral hygiene habits.
- Monitoring patient progress. AI can be used to track patient progress over time and to identify any potential problems early on. This can help dentists and hygienists to provide more timely and effective treatment.
- Automating tasks. AI can be used to automate some of the tasks that are typically performed by dental hygienists, such as charting patient data and scheduling appointments. This can free up hygienists to spend more time with patients and to provide more personalized care.
Here are some specific examples of how AI is being used in dental practice today:
- Dental imaging software. AI-powered dental imaging software can automatically detect and measure dental caries and other oral diseases. This can help dentists and hygienists to diagnose and treat oral diseases more quickly and accurately.
- Patient education apps. AI-powered patient education apps can provide personalized information and feedback, and they can help patients to track their progress over time.
- Teledentistry. AI can be used to facilitate teledentistry, which allows dentists and hygienists to provide care to patients remotely. This can be especially helpful for patients who live in rural areas or who have difficulty traveling to a dental office.
- Robotic assistants. AI-powered robotic assistants can help dentists and hygienists with a variety of tasks, such as preparing patients for treatment, taking dental impressions, and delivering fluoride treatments. This can free up hygienists to spend more time with patients and to provide more personalized care.
AI is still a relatively new technology in dental hygiene practice, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way oral healthcare is delivered. As AI continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative and effective applications of AI in dental hygiene in the years to come. But it’s not perfect and the jury is still out on if it will ever be.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. September 2023;21(8):8