Hackernoon logoAI Helps Dentists With Early Detection of Oral Cancer and Cavities by@milespmurray

AI Helps Dentists With Early Detection of Oral Cancer and Cavities

Dentistry is not often thought of as the health sector where the impossible happens. We often attribute life-saving medicine to new surgical procedures and efforts to find an end to cancer. But with AI, dentists have begun to improve the quality of life for many that struggle with oral disease. Programs are being used to analyze oral cancer lesions. The projections for these breakthroughs are earlier detection and a higher quality of care for the patients. Smart toothbrushes and their apps may be a common find in every bathroom and mobile phone.
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Miles Murray Hacker Noon profile picture

Miles Murray

Tech nerd. Start-up dreamer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way in virtually every industry. The idea that it will take over many human positions in businesses is becoming the consensus. Artificial intelligence is defined as the intelligence of machines. This contrasts with the naturally occurring intelligence of the human brain. Some skeptics are worried that it will come with a slew of consequences. But others are excited about the potential breakthroughs AI could provide. In a more unlikely field, it is already having game-changing effects. Dentistry is not often thought of as the health sector where the impossible happens. We often attribute life-saving medicine to new surgical procedures and efforts to find an end to cancer. But with AI, dentists have begun to improve the quality of life for many that struggle with oral disease. 

Dental Mobile Applications 

Nearly everything today has a mobile application. And every industry is starting to tap into the possibilities they can provide. Dentistry is no different. Recently, there has been a spike in dental apps.

Some center around education for the patient. They offer helpful information, fun facts, and tidbits on what your dentist wishes that you knew. Other apps focus more on the professional side of dentistry. These offer platforms for colleagues to share patient charts, x-rays, and test results.

Professionals hope this betters collaboration efforts on diagnoses and courses of treatment. And even other apps focus on the actual dental practice. Some offer Alexa and Google Home-type voice commands that allow the dentist to request a chart or a specific view of the mouth.

Cavity Alerts

One of the appeals of AI is its ability to process massive amounts of information. And far more efficiently than a human ever could. Computer brains can store large groups of data, analyze it, and sort it into different categories based on different metrics.

Some companies have created programs that can take large data sets of patient records and x-rays, and identify patterns that are present. These patterns can aid dentists in identifying caries and lesions of decay. It can help predict where some could form or worsen.

On the patient side, some are developing smart toothbrushes that link to an app. These can record your dental data as you brush. The brush can let you know if it identifies areas you may be missing while brushing. It would highlight where cavities are starting to form. This would help you improve your bushing to halt the spread of the cavity and alert you to make an appointment with your dentist.

Oral Cancer Detection

Similar to cavity detection, AI has been put to work in the oral cancer field. Programs are being used to analyze oral cancer lesions. The hope is in improving early detection. Dentists can then begin treatment much sooner.

Early treatment decreases the chances of major damage or even death. Like most cancers, oral cancers are far more manageable with early detection. This detection relies on the dentist’s in-person appointments and screenings. Adding AI to the screening process can help scientifically analyze the lesions.

The computer could catch something the human eye may have missed. These programs can “learn” the markers of different types of legions. They can sort them into benign, malignant, and potentially malignant.

These computers can filter through sets of images and sort them more efficiently than a human. The projections for these breakthroughs are earlier detection and a higher quality of care for the patients.

Furthermore, AI has allowed for the potential of remote screenings. Remote screenings can increase the number of times per year that a dentist can look at their patient.

So What’s Next?

As AI gets more intelligent, the possibilities for its applications in dentistry continue to grow. Diagnosing and early detection can become more accurate. Proper courses of treatment can be decided earlier. And recovery rates can increase. Consumer apps may also become more and more the norm. Smart toothbrushes and their apps may be a common find in every bathroom and mobile phone. While some are wary of AI’s presence in the medical field, the technology shows no sign of slowing down. 

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