“Because virtual reality is used to relax the patient and reduce pain,” explains Lappage, “the dentist is seen in the patient’s eyes as providing empathy”.
Virtual reality is also used in training to allow dental students to experience dental procedures digitally, explains Lappage. This is especially useful for emerging issues that occur infrequently but require specific experience to be addressed.
Artificial intelligence helps in diagnosis
As noted in Dentistry today, AI tools are now more consistent than dentists in diagnosing tooth decay from dental and peripheral x-rays, which makes sense: AI algorithms are trained using billions of data points to take decisions based on the available evidence, which gives them an advantage in identifying specific conditions.
“There is a real use case for AI in discovering abnormal structures, determining diagnoses and suggesting treatments,” explains Lappage. “At the end of the day, dentists are human. AI acts like another pair of eyes validating their results.
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Privacy concerns can be a problem, says Lappage. “The big challenge with AI is that we have to fuel the engine with real patient data. Many healthcare AI applications struggle to completely de-identify data: by reinserting data, it may be possible to re-identify people. Practices should ensure that people cannot be identified in AI tools.
Yet Lappage sees a growing use case for AI in clinical decision making and dental education. Armed with anonymous dental data, these tools can help improve the accuracy of clinical treatment plans before irreversible procedures are performed and generate models that students can use in analyzing dental treatments.
3D printing pays off for patients and practitioners
The advent of high-speed, low-cost 3D printers enables dental practices to both reduce overall expenses and improve overall patient satisfaction.
Lappage emphasizes the use of dental implants: “If you look at dental implants, it could cost around $ 100,000 to build a lab for manufacturing,” he says. “A high-end 3D printer, on the other hand, costs around $ 20,000. By reducing the cost of manufacturing this tooth, we reduce the cost to the patient.
Other applications of 3D printing in dentistry include medical modeling and dental splints. According to a recent Nature article, Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) data of patients’ dental structures are now commonly available to dental offices and can be used to create a volumetric image, which is then used to create a 3D model of the patient’s jaws. This model can be used to assess the impact of treatments or to plan specific surgical procedures.
During this time, 3D printing offers a faster and cheaper way to create dental splints, which are used to prevent teeth grinding. Until recently, broken splints meant the slow and expensive creation of replacements. Now, new splints can be created in just over an hour.
Dental technology brings safety considerations
While new dental technologies offer benefits such as increased ease of access, reduced patient stress, improved diagnostic accuracy, and lower material costs, Lappage notes that “the more we use these technologies, the more information available to us is rich. As a result, the value of medical records is increasing and the number of ransomware and phishing attacks against dentists is increasing. »In one case, a dental office lost almost $ 60,000 more than three days after a data breach brought operations to a halt.
To help limit security risks and improve patient confidence, Lappage suggests prioritizing privacy by design. In practice, this means incorporating security and access controls to digital data before it is shared between healthcare departments or partners to ensure that in the event of attacks, the risk of a data breach is significantly reduced.
At the end of the line ? New technologies are transforming dental practices, bringing benefits across the industry for patients and providers.