Recognizing that artificial intelligence could lead to earlier diagnosis of oral diseases and put more tools in the hands of patients, the majority of dental practices, dental schools, oral health researchers, and policymakers are rapidly positioning themselves to evolve with the dawning AI movement in oral health care.
Experts shared these insights and more at the inaugural Global Symposium on AI and Dentistry, held Nov. 3-4 at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM).
“AI holds the promise of transforming the way we practice oral health care, pinpoint and treat diseases and conditions, and increase equitable access to care and treatment,” HSDM Dean William Giannobile said at the symposium.
The tangible energy around AI’s growing influence on dentistry is what prompted HSDM to gather more than 400 leading dental practitioners, researchers, students, AI scientists, ethicists, and policymakers from 30 countries. Attendees joined event workshops, keynotes, and thematic panel discussions both in person and virtually.
A poster session included more than 65 research projects featuring a range of device prototypes, patient-facing smartphone apps, and other technologies under development at the intersection of AI and dentistry. A panel of judges honored several presenters.
For more than 40 years, researchers have been experimenting with ways to apply AI to dentistry, said Florian Hillen, founder and CEO of VideaHealth, a dental imaging startup launched from AI research conducted at Harvard and MIT.
Within the last decade, he said, AI capabilities have finally reached critical mass.
“AI-powered tools are now helping dentists identify dental decay in patients up to five years earlier,” he said. “The tech revolution is happening.”
Beyond opportunities to improve outcomes for individual patients, researchers are seizing AI to help solve population-level health challenges. To do so effectively, academia and industry will have to dissolve boundaries between scientific discipines, said keynote speaker Dimitrias Bertsimas of MIT.
Read more on this story from Harvard Medical School.