If you’re like the majority of humans on the planet, going to the dentist isn’t on the top of your list of things to do for fun. But with artificial intelligence (AI) and new tech and innovative design, it might start to be a bit more intriguing. AI might not be able to do the actual brushing and flossing for you (yet), but it will certainly change your experience the next time you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair.
How AI is Altering Dentistry
From analyzing X-rays to documenting the results of your visit, artificial intelligence will be relied upon to make your dental appointment more efficient and to enhance your care.
Dentem created a platform that integrates machine learning APIs, including the ability to auto-populate tooth charting. It offers dental practices software services that synchronize appointments across all platforms and maintains all patients’ records electronically. They currently offer Dx Vision that uses machine learning to assess dental images for areas of concern and soon will offer D Assistant, a virtual assistant that will respond to a dentist’s voice commands.
As with other healthcare applications, artificial intelligence will be able to support dentists as a virtual second opinion when they determine a care plan. In the future, you might be able to expect customized dental care based on your genetic makeup or a dentist wearing smart glasses that not only protect them from your saliva but allows them to see your bone and dental root structure.
Changing Dental Insurance with Technology
Beam, a dental PPO insurance provider for small- and medium-sized companies, promises smarter dental care. Members of Beam receive all they need to take care of their teeth including a Beam Brush, toothpaste, refill heads and floss delivered to their doorstep with free shipping every six months. The brush records the time and frequency of the person’s brushing and then syncs that data with the company’s app. This data is used to determine premiums for dental insurance, so the better people brush, the lower the cost for the insurance. This new approach to dental care is touted as “the most innovative thing to happen to the dental insurance market, ever.”
Machine learning is critical for assessing all the claims information that comes into insurance providers to identify patterns and potential fraud. This is also how patient data can be used by algorithms to see and learn critical information from the aggregate data that can ultimately inform care decisions.
Since millennials (18- to 35-year-olds) are becoming a significant segment of the economy, companies are trying to adapt products and services to appeal to them. According to the Euromonitor 2018 Oral Care in the US report, the same goes for dentistry. And, since this demographic is generally not following the guidelines for proper dental care set forth by the American Dental Association, the industry has its work cut out for them. And, to add to the conundrum, this demographic is experiencing more dental issues plus are more afraid to visit the dentist than other age groups.
So, new dental products such as the Quip toothbrush and services and technological enhancements are designed and marketed in part to get millennials to take care of their teeth. The Quip toothbrush was developed in collaboration with dentists to create an affordable electric toothbrush to help simplify better brushing (and offers an optional refill plan that will send new brush heads to your door every three months). Quip makes what Racked called a “goddamn sexy toothbrush,” Forbes described as “the Tesla of toothbrushes,” and BuzzFeed called it “hipster.” Upping the coolness factor of dental products is just one strategy to appeal to millennials. There are other companies such as Colgate and Kolibree, a French start-up, offering connected toothbrushes. Cocofloss makes dental floss the color of the tropics, and that tastes like, you guessed it, coconut.
Lydian Dental is “changing trips to the dentist to be more convenient, affordable, and fun” through a mobile office that stops at major companies to offer convenient dental care to employees in treatment rooms equipped with Netflix. Other innovations in dental care include lower-cost and time commitment orthodontia, dental offices designed with interior decorating that’s the epitome of cool, and connecting brushes to apps or games to encourage good oral hygiene.
With all this tech and innovative design, good dental hygiene might not quite make it on top of your fun list, but it will certainly up the cool factor of taking care of your teeth.