Why this dental hygienist is excited about AI in dentistry

Anjuli Avis, CRDH
Anjuli Avis, CRDH.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in dentistry has generated significant excitement lately, prompting the question of whether it lives up to the hype. Drawing from my clinical experience of using AI for patient care and training, I can confidently affirm that the enthusiasm is well founded.

If you're contemplating incorporating this innovation into your practice, here's a "starter kit" that my hygienists and I follow, offering a glimpse into the potential of these powerful tools. Keep in mind that the protocols discussed below can be adapted for various platforms designed to interpret radiographs and manage information in your practice management software.

Using AI in your dental practice

Easy, breezy chart prep

Initiate by having your teams print their schedules through the AI dashboard. This becomes a central hub for notes and feedback during morning huddles, serving as foundational elements of comprehensive treatment planning.

The dashboard typically provides the following crucial information:

  • Last date of x-rays (bitewings, full-mouth series)
  • Last date of probing
  • What patient is scheduled for during the appointment
  • Unscheduled treatment for both hygiene and doctor
  • AI recognition of possible missed treatment
  • Some software will now provide the date of the last health history
  • Review x-rays

    You can examine x-rays with a focus on AI-generated measurements, such as: 

  • Bone loss -- From the cementoenamel junction to the bone compared with periodontal charting

  • Incipient decay -- This indicates opportunities for Curodont Repair by vVardis for remineralization of enamel once decay is confirmed with the doctor

  • Abnormalities of all tooth structures, which highlighted in color blocks or in boxes to be reviewed with the doctor

  • Narratives matter, so check the quality of x-rays for submission to the insurance company
  • Review of treatment plan

    Use the "scheduled for today" columns for comparing with diagnostics to do the following with the treatment plan:

  • Confirm the accuracy of the treatment plan.

  • Present opportunities to the doctor based on what the AI detects as not yet treated or treatment planned.
  • During the dental appointment

    Shortcuts, where available, should be used to get to x-rays quickly. In addition:

  • Use patient monitors or iPads for educational purposes.

  • During periodontal charting, hygienists should review the AI and ensure notes are made for the doctor.

  • Doctors should review AI also and by doing so, quicker calibration and treatment planning can take place.

  • Automated periodontal charting and restorative charting is available on some platforms. Use this feature for quicker comprehensive and new patient exams.

  • Efficiency is crucial, especially as dentistry faces a labor shortage.
  • Operations

  • Unscheduled treatment and recare reports are available in most of the AI platforms to maintain a full schedule.

  • My teams use these reports to fill their schedules during slow seasons and to partner with the front office team.

  • These reports are clear to read and visually pleasing.

  • Weekly review of these reports is recommended and can be discussed at team meetings or huddles, depending on the practice's needs.
  • Marketing and business assessments

    Leverage AI tools to assist the marketing department in assessing your presence in the community. For example, DMscore will break down your visibility and ranking versus competitors based on price per click, SEO and mapping. Review this monthly at least.

    For employee evaluations with the goal of improving business practices, Patient Prism uses an AI algorithm to reengage lost patient opportunities. It measures team member interaction with patients on the phone and gives you tangible material with which you can coach employees.

    Patient engagement

    Encourage your teams to employ QR codes for product websites, showcasing the technology to patients. This engagement strategy can be applied across various partnerships within your practice, fostering patient involvement in discussions.

    The takeaway

    AI is a transformative force in dentistry, offering myriad benefits for both patient care and practice management. By incorporating these protocols, you can harness the full potential of AI in your dental practice.

    Anjuli Avis, CRDH, is a dental hygienist of 18 years. She has been a clinical coordinator, hygiene mentor, trainer, study club content creator, and presenter. Currently, she is a regional director of hygiene for a U.S. dental service organization, with the main goal of implementing best practices in the hygiene department. Avis is an advocate for consistent and thorough diagnostics like salivary testing, oral cancer screenings, and AI.

    The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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