How Your Dentist May Use AI at Your Next Visit

Jordan Haire, DMD
ROC Dental Group

AI is making its way into dental practices and is expected to be widely used in the years to come. So how could it affect your next office visit?

In 2023, our practice started using real-time AI software to identify areas of concern on a patient’s X-rays. We use it as a second set of eyes. For example, it highlights and circles cracks, failing restorations, and possible decay and bone loss that would indicate periodontal disease. Areas of concern show up in color on the X-ray, which is greyscale. Grey and white X-rays make it difficult to determine variation. AI detects even the slightest inconsistency from normal, and some of these differences aren’t visible to the human eye on a regular X-ray. AI’s color boxes and outlines pop, bringing attention right to the spot we need to further investigate.

The technology doesn’t replace a dentist’s judgment about treatment or their clinical skills, but rather it is used like a grammar or spelling check when you write a document. It also saves time because it clearly and quickly shows patients what is going on in their mouths. When patients can easily see troubled areas in their mouths, it helps them to better understand the treatment they need. They also love it because it doesn’t require additional time or money!

So how does it work? AI works by using algorithms to quickly and accurately analyze X-rays, detecting problems like cavities, bone loss, gum disease, and periodontal abscess or infection. This results in earlier detection and treatment of issues, which avoids future pain, emergencies, and costly procedures. It can also take gum measurements and evaluate crown margins to ensure that they are properly seated. This saves time spent improving a patient’s bite.

I find that AI enables patients to become more involved in their treatment planning. They can more easily understand why their dentist is making certain recommendations and the technology helps clarify their questions. At the same time, they can rest assured that it is not replacing their dentist’s judgment or skill.

Jordan Haire, DMD is a dentist at ROC Dental Group.