Innovation, Unlimited Potential Lie Ahead for Dental Industry in 2023—Part 2

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report January 2023
Volume 57
Issue 1

Dental industry leaders including clinicians, manufacturers, and educators share what they see ahead for the industry in the coming year. This is the second in a 2-part series; the first part was featured in the January issue of Dental Products Report®.

January 23, 2023

Digital Dentistry Is the Future: We Must Integrate Equipment and Software Together to Improve and Simplify Treatment Planning and Procedures

Nate Lawson, DMD, PhD, associate professor, director of Division of Biomaterials, University of Birmingham School of Dentistry:

I think the future of dentistry is digital. This sounds cliché because everything in this world has gone digital and digital components of dentistry have been around for a long time. But as someone who teaches in a school, I see that most of what is being taught has changed very little from when the world was exclusively analog. Intraoral scanners have become so good that everyone should have one. CBCT units have become extremely common. In-office mills and printers are steadily increasing in popularity, and the materials that can be fabricated in these devices are expanding and improving. I think we need to train ourselves on how to implement this digital technology into our everyday practice and integrate this equipment and software together to improve and simplify treatment planning and procedures.

Innovation, Unlimited Potential Lie Ahead for Dental Industry in 2023—Part 2

January 23, 2023

What’s Next in Dental Implants

Indraneel Kanaglekar, senior vice president and president of global dental at ZimVie, discusses his company’s plans to expand its impact in the growing field of dental implants

Patients today who need teeth replaced expect to look and feel great. Because big strides have been made in recent years with respect to materials, techniques, and technology, many patients are likely to choose implants. That’s why ZimVie has begun to deliver products and education to ensure dentists have the skills and tools to deliver great and long-lasting implant care. “It is critical for patients to regain their functional chewing ability while achieving great aesthetics. Dental implants today can create a much better outcome for a patient compared [with] a crown and bridge,” says Indraneel Kanaglekar, senior vice president and president of Global Dental at ZimVie. “That’s where implants fit in the dental industry. Anyone who has a patient with missing teeth should consider dental implants as the best tooth replacement and treatment option.”

According to Kanaglekar, a number of factors have played and will continue to play a role in the growth of implants. “On average, only 1 of 4 patients who currently has a missing tooth is getting implant[s], so there is a lot of room for implants to be adopted as the standard of care for tooth replacement. More dentists are getting trained in placing and restoring implants, which is driving implant industry growth. And finally, the adoption of digital dentistry and digital workflows is making implant dentistry easier, more efficient, and faster.”

January 23, 2023

Teledentistry Innovation Is User-Driven

During the pandemic, teledentistry moved to the forefront of dental technology because of its ability to connect providers to patients for virtual consultations and emergency triage. Now that the lockdown is behind us, practices, dentists, and patients alike can rediscover the unrestricted potential of teledentistry. I’m happy to say that teledentistry innovation is being driven by users of the technology who are pushing the boundaries of virtual care to markedly improve the oral and systemic health of the communities they serve.

Every year MouthWatch recognizes teledentistry pioneers in multiple segments of dentistry with our Teledentistry Innovation Awards, commonly known as the Tellies. We announced the 5 winners of the fifth annual Tellies during a live ceremony as part of the 2022 Greater New York Dental Meeting in New York. As in years past, the story behind each Tellie award recipient is inspirational and worth sharing. Here are highlights of the 5 Teledentistry Innovators of 2022.

1. Tiffany Grant, RDH:Tiffany has been teaching providers how to improve care through teledentistry by presenting around the country and consulting with associations, dental schools, and nonprofit organizations. She started her teledentistry career at the first Missouri pilot program serving schools, nursing homes, and federally qualified health centers. She’s recently added teledentistry to her private practice setting to expand hygiene hours.

2. Jin Xiao, DDS, PhD: Dr Xiao authored an extensive teledentistry study funded by the National Institutes of Health incorporating store and forward as well as live video to provide dental exams. Dr Xiao is expanding the possibilities of teledentistry by combining it with artificial intelligence.

3. University of Bridgeport Fones School of Dental Hygiene: This dental school in Connecticut uses teledentistry to enable their students to provide free dental care to children, homeless individuals, older patients, veterans, and women who are pregnant. They plan to make teledentistry and mobile dentistry a clinical rotation experience for all second-year students. Additionally, the school has developed a program that educates women who are pregnant on their heightened risk for oral health problems while providing free onsite treatments to those in need.

4. Floss and Gloss:Teledentistry has been a pivotal part of the Floss and Gloss program from the Purchase District Health Department in Paducah, Kentucky. Launched in 2019, the Floss and Gloss program is now providing children with access to oral care in 38 different schools in western Kentucky. This year, the teledentistry program will have 2 dentists and will introduce silver diamine fluoride treatments for children who qualify in their pilot program to manage tooth sensitivity and slow tooth decay.

5. Apple Tree Dental:This innovative nonprofit organization’s mission is to overcome barriers to oral health, and they have incorporated teledentistry to help achieve that mission. Teledentistry played a crucial role in their midpandemic projects that targeted triage of urgent dental concerns and is now a part of daily care at Apple Tree. Using teledentistry for triage saves patients time, money, missed work time, and the need to arrange for childcare while freeing up precious chair time to deliver treatment.

These 5 examples are proof positive that when a teledentistry solution such as TeleDent by MouthWatch is put into the hands of forward-thinking, patient-focused providers and educators, innovation occurs. We’re proud to be a part of programs that are driving the future of virtual patient care.

Innovation, Unlimited Potential Lie Ahead for Dental Industry in 2023—Part 2

January 23, 2023

Whip Mix Meets You Where You Are

Anne Steinbock, CEO, Whip Mix:

One size or solution does not fit all dental offices. The trend is an open system that allows flexibility to select equipment and materials solutions that meet your current needs and will enhance patient care. Advanced digital technologies such as intraoral scanners, 3D printers, and design software simplify the digital workflow with preprogrammed parameters, and new materials can be added as they become available.

Our customers are asking for open systems that will incorporate many different technologies and data file sources: CBCT, facial scanning, virtual articulation, and design programs. This has led us to offer the VeriONE Digital system, which bundles together a unique set of products and services for each customer.

What ties everything together is support and training, which are critical for success with any system. Whip Mix is here to provide assistance throughout the life of a product, from product selection and implementation to optimization and service. Buying from Whip Mix is much more than a transactional sale; it’s the beginning of a lasting relationship.

January 23, 2023

What’s New, What’s Ahead, and What’s on Today’s Cutting Edge

As we explore new ways to meet our patients’ needs, there is no doubt that providing patient-centric care and leveraging cutting-edge technology will be a priority in 2023. Today’s forward-thinking dentists and orthodontists are ramping up services focused on patients and harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to make their patients’ smiles a reality. We have also seen this trend with patients, who are increasingly trusting AI in their care. In fact, recent studies suggest most patients are more trusting of their diagnosis if the dentist uses AI to assist.

SmileDirectClub, the first MedTech platform for teeth straightening, has been leading the industry by revolutionizing orthodontics, breaking down barriers to oral care, and increasing access to patients who could not receive the smile they always wanted. We are now putting even more power into our platform by launching 2 innovations that allow dentists and orthodontists to enhance patients’ experiences while providing the dental care they need and deserve.

  • SmileDirectClub Care+is a new premium offering that lets patients get started at a dental practice and choose what works best for them, including aligner wear time, care models (in person and virtual), and payment choices. Patients have flexibility and options for their care, with support from multiple dental professionals along the way.
  • SmileMaker Platform is the first app in the industry to use AI technology to show patients a real-time, 3D view of their potential smile transformation. The app will be coming to the United States in 2023 and will be free to download. You can only imagine what this technology will eventually be able to do by leveraging a smartphone.

With the dental industry shifting to a more patient-centric approach, our latest innovations are ready to up the experiential ante and increase access to best-in-class, cost-effective care.

January 23, 2023

HuFriedyGroup Focuses on Patient, Clinician Safety

HuFriedyGroup continues to help dental professionals be the best in practice by providing a complete circle of protection in the dental suite. The company brings together world-class products, services, education, and communities, resulting in superior clinician performance, clinical outcomes, and safety for clinicians and patients. Here are 2 such solutions that will play a big role in dental practices in 2023.

Accutron™ ClearView™ Nasal Mask

Clinicians can help their patients relax with nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation. The Accutron™ ClearView™ Nasal Mask from HuFriedyGroup uses a patient demand system for administering gas and is designed to match the patient’s flow of breathing. Plus, the soft inner mask creates a better seal against the patient’s face for better administration of gas.

  • Accutron™ ClearView™ Nasal Mask features and benefits:
  • Mask-in-mask design to reduce ambient nitrous oxide
  • Clear outer mask that shows patient breathing through their nose
  • An improved facial seal for added comfort and safety
  • Single-use nasal mask recommended by the American Dental Association
  • Colorful, scented inner mask that delights patients of all ages
  • Low profile that provides easier access to the patient’s mouth
DentaPure™ cartridges provide treatment water that is compliant with the CDC recommendation of less than 500 CFU/mL for 1 year or 240 L of water.

The Accutron™ ClearView™ Nasal Mask’s low-profile design provides unencumbered access to the mouth, and its small, lightweight scavenging system maximizes patient comfort. In addition to unscented, it is available in 4 scents for both adult and pediatric patients, including bubble gum and orange. These nasal masks from HuFriedyGroup fit snugly without tape or uncomfortable tubes protruding into the patient’s nostrils. For greater infection control and ease of use, each nasal mask is individually wrapped and is available at a lower cost than comparable single-use disposable options. Additionally, the nasal masks can be used with the Accutron™ Digital Ultra™ Flowmeter on a completely flat surface for easy disinfection after delivering the right mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen to patients.

DentaPure™ Cartridge

Maintaining dental unit waterlines with a germicidal treatment is critical to prevent bacteria from overwhelming the waterline environment. This is especially relevant given the most recent guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on October 31, 2022 which reported a new cluster of suspected nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections occurring in March 2022. NTM outbreaks were also previously reported at pediatric dental clinics in 2015 and 2016. The investigation into the latest cluster is ongoing, but initial data show microbial counts were much higher than the recommended level.

DentaPure™ cartridges provide treatment water that is compliant with the CDC recommendation of less than 500 CFU/mL for 1 year or 240 L of water. That means significantly less maintenance, with no routine shocking, fewer protocols, and no cartridge changeouts every few months.

DentaPure features and benefits:

  • Registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide less than or equal to 200 CFU/mL for 1 year or 240 L of water1
  • Minimal maintenance required following installation
  • Fewer protocols to reduce the possibility of human error
  • No routine shocking
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Cartridges that do not interfere with dental materials and bonding2
  • No concerns with corrosion or etching3
  • Use not restricted by the EPA Best Management Practices for dental amalgam waste
  • Bottle-style cartridges that are quickly and easily installed by office staff
  • Cartridges that can be easily disposed in the regular office trash
  • Replacement reminder program in place

All claims made based on use with potable water.

1. EPA Est. No. 52252

-MN-001 / EPA Reg. No. 74245-5 / FDA 510K #K992893

2. Puttaiah R. Effects of Low Grade Iodine in Dental Unit Waterlines On Shear Bond Strength of a Dentin Bonding Agent, Baylor College of Dentistry

3. Data on File.

January 23, 2023

The Internet of Things in the Dental Practice

DentalEZ president and COO Heather Trombley:

The internet of things (IoT) lets devices and dental practices reach their full potential and eliminates age-old hassles, according to DentalEZ president and COO Heather Trombley. “Humans communicate information through words and pictures, while machines and now dental equipment communicate through data,” Trombley says. “With IoT, [those] data can be harnessed and aggregated to provide useful information. That is the basis for what we call smart devices. And when devices are smart, they can tell us things and do things for us. In dentistry, that can mean more focus on the patient and less focus on the equipment that surrounds them. And that’s, in a nutshell, what the IoT is and does.”

Dental is a type of “Wild West,” as Trombley describes it, and there is potential for certain parties to leverage IoT in ways we have not yet seen. “As [the] IoT becomes more prolific and operational data get linked to practice management data to glean even more insights into the efficiency of the dental practice, it will be important not only to think about security but also to think about who has access and the ability to use all [those] data,” Trombley says. “DentalEZ has already begun thinking ahead about standards for connectivity and built in the safeguards and access points for the data. But if manufacturers go to market and haven’t thought through it all, it could be a cause for concern.”

January 23, 2023

All-in-one Cloud-Based Practice Management and Imaging Solutions Are Necessary

Eric Giesecke, CEO, Planet DDS:

The dental service organization (DSO) consolidation trend continues in the industry, increasing the need for cloud-based software that can help DSOs centralize their operations. Forward-thinking DSOs can stay ahead by following the lead of other industries and the growing list of DSOs including Mid-Atlantic Dental Partners, Dental Care Alliance, Dental365, and Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry by adopting an all-in-one cloud-based practice management and imaging solution. With an all-in-one cloud-based platform, practices can streamline workflows and reduce administrative burdens on existing staff while consolidating vendors to reduce complexity and improve the patient experience.

Recently, Chris Biggerstaff, director of information technology for Lone Peak, a DSO with 70 locations, shared, “We’re saving an average of 4 to 6 hours per day for our financial analysis.” Ray Caruso, CEO of Lone Peak, added, “We partnered with Planet DDS early on as we prepared for growth. The cloud-based system is perfect for our diverse geography and central reporting structure.”

Rosanna Spinoccia, director of process improvement for Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry, a DSO with more than 60 locations, also shared, “As a growing DSO, we were faced with the challenges of having multiple practice management software[s] throughout our offices. By centralizing all our practices and providing visibility to all locations, Denticon has afforded us the opportunity to streamline our processes and procedures, and Planet DDS continues to address our needs as clients.”

Our all-in-one cloud-based dental software platform brings efficiency to all aspects of a dental organization. We’re committed to making the successful management of dental practices easier for our customers.

January 23, 2023

All-Tissue Laser Technology Can Have a Major Impact

Russell Morrow, DDS, chief dental officer, BIOLASE:

Cutting-edge technology such as the BIOLASE Waterlase iPlus has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a one-stop dentist. I firmly believe that any dental professional who uses Waterlase all-tissue laser technology in their practice will improve their patient satisfaction and practice as a whole. Most importantly, it will help them become a better dentist. Dental lasers are vital to my success and a must-have in my practice. I cannot recommend them enough. Waterlase will not only make you a better dentist but also invigorate your passion for dentistry. After years of practice, that is an undervalued benefit.

January 23, 2023

Technology Can Help Offset Obstacles Caused by Staff Shortages

Stephanie Woeste, director of dental marketing, Midmark:

“The dental industry will continue to face challenges throughout the new year. At the top of the list is the shortage of staff,” explains Stephanie Woeste, director of dental marketing for Midmark. “New product and technology introductions will help fill the gaps. Our EOIS [Extraoral Imaging System] is a great example of this. The intuitive 3D imaging system requires very little training and familiarity, making it seamless for daily staff to step in even if they’ve never used the system. Flexibility and efficiency are also key factors that our EOIS addresses, with 2D and 3D imaging capabilities all from 1 sensor.”

January 23, 2023

Look for AI to Go Mainstream in 2023

Wardah Inam, PhD, CEO and cofounder, Overjet:

Dental artificial intelligence (AI) will go mainstream in 2023. AI for radiograph analysis and clinical insights is becoming the new standard of care as dental groups and private practices adopt the technology to assist in clinical decision-making, case presentation, and operations.

Already, AI helps doctors diagnose with more accuracy and consistency, creating clinical alignment. It is a powerful tool for educating patients with compelling visualization, quantification, and color. In 2023, we’ll see applications of AI expand into pediatric dental care, chart audits, practice acquisition analysis, and automated communication between providers and payers to reduce inefficiencies and improve the patient experience with faster claim adjudication at the point of care.

Additionally, dental schools will introduce AI to more students in 2023. Overjet collaborated with the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville to empower the next generation of dentists with an AI lecture series and a hands-on learning environment. We also collaborated with other universities to educate faculty and students on AI applications in dentistry.

January 23, 2023

Chlorhexidine or Glutes?

I tend to follow the published clinical and scientific proof when it comes to efficacy with something as important as my daily direct and indirect restorations. In August 2002, my issue of CRA News [Gordon J. Christensen Clinicians Report] came, reporting their clinical and benchtop evaluations of 9 desensitizers, including Hemaseal & Cide, GLUMA, and MicroPrime G. When it concluded that the chlorhexidine-based Hemaseal & Cide was the best overall desensitizer, I was sold. Twenty years later, I’m still using it for every direct restoration and cementation that I do. Why? More proof keeps coming out.

In 2019, Dental Advisor published independent laboratory testing showing that Hemaseal & Cide had twice the inhibition zone (kill rate) of those 2 glutaraldehyde products. Furthermore, in 2020, the Catapult organization reported on 150 direct and indirect restorations by 10 different clinicians, without 1 reported case of postoperative sensitivity.

Knowing that others are receiving the same protection I give my patients is comforting. I call it my “no-excuse excellence” for everything I do. When I look at this evidence along with its enhanced bond strength, reduced microleakage, and attractive price point, I know Hemaseal & Cide is a no-excuse winner.

January 23, 2023

What Impact Will AI Have on Dentistry in 2023 and Over the Next 10 Years?

Florian Hillen, CEO and founder, VideaHealth:

In 2023, I believe we’ll see progressive dentists and dental service organizations adopting clinical artificial intelligence (AI) at an accelerated rate. As dental disease–detecting AI such as Videa Assist is deployed within dental offices, providers will have access to improved analytics and the ability to not only better diagnose disease in patients but also predict patients’ oral health outcomes if they don’t receive the treatment they need.

As AI diagnostics and automation are made more broadly accessible within the dental software product portfolio, such as in Henry Schein One’s Dentrix® and Dentrix® Detect AI powered by VideaHealth, dentists, hygienists, and other dental staff will experience substantial benefits. These benefits include workflow efficiencies such as streamlining diagnoses, treatment planning, scheduling, charting, and even ordering supplies. Automating these functions takes mundane task management out of their hands and allows them to focus on direct patient interaction, elevating the standard of care.

Within the next 10 years, the industry will have adopted AI technologies entirely. Just as the global positioning system is standard in smartphones today, I believe dental AI will be ubiquitous and a critical part of the clinician’s toolkit to help them provide better patient care. Dentists will have the ability to present patients with the treatment choice best suited for their future clinical outcomes, which will dramatically improve treatment plan acceptance and patient trust in general. Case acceptance rates for new patients are 25% tooday, which increases only slightly to 50% to 60% for established patients. With the widespread adoption of AI, we can expect to see case acceptance closer to 90%, marking a significant improvement in overall patient trust. Our AI can identify cavities 5 years earlier than dentists alone, meaning the treatment may be a filling today rather than a root canal in the future.

The benefits of AI will extend beyond oral health alone, supporting medical-dental integration (MDI) and helping predict or flag systematic chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, leading to better patient outcomes. For example, a recent study links poor periodontal health with cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.

Increasing the MDI footprint paves the way for more meaningful health care system transformation. Whether it’s working to meet unmet oral care needs and related chronic conditions in vulnerable patient populations or reducing treatment disparities, MDI supported by AI technologies will benefit patients across the globe. Our team at VideaHealth is excited to see the opportunities that MDI continues to offer, and we are honored to be a part of that transformation.

Innovation, Unlimited Potential Lie Ahead for Dental Industry in 2023—Part 2

January 23, 2023

The Gig Economy Comes to Dentistry

Darius Somekhian, head of business development, Cloud Dentistry:

Traditionally, dentistry has been a decade behind when compared with other industries in similar sectors. For example, digital x-rays, voice command inbound call routing, lasers, and even artificial intelligence have been accessible to medical offices for a long time.

The most recent example of new technology and subsequent game-changing business model for dental industry adoption is the gig economy: a peer-to-peer–based activity of acquiring, providing, or sharing access to goods and services often facilitated by a community-based online platform. Models such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Wag!, and are examples of gig economy marketplaces that have changed other industries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the dental labor market was especially affected. Flexibility and lifestyle became the priority for most dental professionals searching for new positions. The American Dental Association recently reported that about one-third of hygienists and dental assistants in the workforce are on the fence about leaving the profession or have already departed traditional full-time roles for part-time positions, nonclinical careers such as manufacturer or distributor representative jobs, and even executive-level positions.

What’s more, within the cohort of professionals aged 25 to 40 years, half are working temporary or part-time jobs. As burnout became the next epidemic in dentistry, dental professionals, especially hygienists and assistants, decided they didn’t want to be shackled to 1 office, especially if they weren’t happy working there. In approximately 1 year, the dental job market became a seller’s market, with more and more job applicants controlling the terms and conditions of their careers and thus driving the adoption of dentistry’s gig economy.

With Cloud Dentistry’s dental gig economy app, dental professionals and privately owned or dental service organization (DSO) offices can connect for working and hiring in the quickest, most reliable, and least expensive manner. For professionals, the app has always been 100% free. For offices, it’s an affordable subscription that works like a gym membership. In other words, the Cloud Dentistry app is the win-win of the new dental gig economy.

Despite being a fraction of the cost of what offices pay for Indeed, recruiters, or staffing agencies, Cloud Dentistry boasts reliability and speedas the main features of its job marketplace platform. In addition, Cloud Dentistry has unlocked fractional units of time as new labor market currency. These were not accessible prior to its launch.

For example, dental professionals can now indicate their temporary work availability based on whole days or specific hours of a day, how far they are willing to drive, and their desired compensation. These features were designed to address the flexibility and lifestyle preferences that today’s dental workforce demands.

The Cloud Dentistry app is much more efficient than traditional job boards, recruiters, or staffing agencies. It can process more than 10,000 bookings per month and thousands more direct, bidirectional messages. Furthermore, it delivers superior transparency by sharing all pertinent information both sides want to know about one other before accepting any booking requests or replying to messages and job postings.

In the years to come, private and DSO offices will need more qualified hiring options to combat the talent supply shortage. They will need to attract professionals who yearn for employment choices that fulfill their personal lifestyle and career goal criteria. Cloud Dentistry is helping both sides of the job marketplace embrace the dental gig economy and prosper from it.

January 23, 2023

The Dawning of the Dental Laser Renaissance: An Untapped Opportunity

Gail Siminovsky, CAE:

The State of Dental Procurement in 2022 survey published by Group Dentistry Now asked dental service organization (DSO) procurement executives what equipment and technology they are currently evaluating for 2022. Not surprisingly, artificial intelligence was ranked number 1. Can you remember any other dental technology category creating such buzz?

The number 2 category of interest was dental lasers. This should also come as no surprise, because dental lasers deliver benefits to the patient and practice that appeal to the business sensibilities of DSO executives.

The laser renaissance is an industry-wide phenomenon. Both private practice owners and DSOs are realizing the importance of market differentiation, increased treatment plan acceptance, improved workflow, and the kinder, gentler patient experience that lasers deliver, all of which boost the practice bottom line.

You may ask yourself, “If lasers have been around for more than 30 years, why is the renaissance happening now?” There are several driving factors:

1. More affordable: Like many technologies, lasers were very expensive when first introduced. This has changed. Many of today’s lasers are affordable enough to justify the purchase of multiple units, especially the smaller hygiene-specific units.

2. More choice: Every year, several new laser manufacturers enter the dental market. Many have their roots in the medical industry and see the enormous opportunity in the dental industry. More choice means more competition, helping drive laser prices down.

3. Oral-systemic relevance: As more dentists and hygienists embrace the relevance of oral-systemic health links, they are searching for more efficient ways to treat periodontal disease. Their search often leads them to lasers.

4. Less pain: Lasers are less invasive when removing decayed tooth structure than dental burs and less painful than scalpels. This can result in reduced need for anesthesia. We know that your patients will not miss the sound of your handpiece or the need for an injection.

5. Quicker procedures: Lasers cut and close the incision site in 1 pass. How efficient is that?

6. Faster healing: Lasers may also reduce the need for using sutures.

7. New pain relief applications: Advances in photobiomodulation, previously known as low-level laser therapy, can build your practice as a pain relief center for patients experiencing temporomandibular joint dysfunction, oral mucositis, and surgical procedures.

8. Better training and certification: This has been the cornerstone of the Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) for 30 years. The ALD is recognized the world over for promoting laser competency and confidence though online education, certificate programs, live lectures, and workshops during our annual conference and exhibition.

Whether you are a DSO executive or a private practice owner, you should participate in the laser renaissance. There’s no better place to start than the ALD 2023 Conference, which is coming to Dallas, Texas, from April 21 to 22. Our theme this year is “Lasers for Practice Success.” Join us and learn why and how lasers fit into your practice.

[Editor’s Note: Gail Siminovsky, CAE, is a leadership professional and has served as executive director of the Academy of Laser Dentistry since 1999. She is focused on raising awareness of lasers as beneficial tools that dentists and hygienists can use to manage dental disease. Disclosure: Siminovsky is a salaried employee of the Academy of Laser Dentistry. She has no other financial affiliations or personal conflicts of interest. Contact her at]

January 23, 2023

After the Hype, AI Technology Becomes Reality in the New Year

Margaret Scarlett, DMD:

Pearl, Denti.AI, and Overjet are artificial intelligence (AI) dental products approved by the FDA in the United States for radiologic interpretation of common dental diseases, caries, or periodontal disease. It looks like Retrace will follow soon. There is more to come with AI administration products, including smart toothbrushes and robots, in the future.

Many dental service organizations (DSOs) are already using these products, and competitive dental practices are speeding the usual glacial pace of adopting these new technologies. In 2023, look for availability of AI products designed for assessing common radiologic oral pathology already in use by our Canadian and European colleagues.

We can expect the hype around AI and augmented reality (AR) to be replaced by reality. What’s the benefit vs risk equation? The new formula will balance benefits and risks with real-world data. As we know, risk management is the name of the game these days in dental practice, whether you are in a DSO or standalone practice. The end question is, to treat or not to treat? Clinicians will need to ultimately decide that answer in the coming year, and these new AI tools are diagnostic aids for oral disease.

The FDA has defined unique considerations such as usability, equity and accountability, and transparency of algorithms for assessing common dental diseases as key pieces of benefits/risk analysis. Transparency is the name of the game, with information about AI software available about its intended use, development, performance, and even logic.

For decisions about purchasing AI for your practice, you need to know the algorithms and the patient population upon which the AI is based to determine whether the AI is useful. You should assess the method for validation of the test data, whether it was a radiologist, dentist, or oral and maxillofacial radiologist reading radiographs. The bottom line is that AI won’t replace a dentist’s ability to read and interpret radiographs, but it is likely that dental offices using AI/AR will replace dentists who don’t use AI to read their radiographs. AI/AR won’t replace any clinicians—that’s my first prediction for 2023.

Second, use and performance of AI is likely to vary depending on your patient variable. I really like Ivoclar Digital, which has an app called IvoSmile. It shows a patient what their mouth might look like after prosthodontics and/or orthodontics. Trying to talk to patients about both treatments at the same time has always been a challenge for clinicians like me who struggle sometimes with communication.

I like reproducibility in terms of communication. That’s why I like the VistaCam iX HD Smart camera as well as SOPROLIFE and SOPROCARE and the MouthWatch Plus+ HD camera.

Virtual robotic dentistry for patients in rural areas, nursing homes, or places where access remains a challenge is still years away. But individuals are currently working on this technology, which is already in use in China. Additionally, new ways to think about toothbrushing are available this year from Plaqless, Kolibree, or Colgate’s hum.

Margaret Scarlett, DMD, is a dentist, futurist, and thought leader for Digital Transformation Partners. She is retired from the US Public Health Service. Her work centered on analysis of large population–based data sets for the Health Resources and Service Administration, the US Census Bureau National Health Interview Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its most accurate surveillance system, and the US Department of Health & Human Services.

Innovation, Unlimited Potential Lie Ahead for Dental Industry in 2023—Part 2

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