Unleashing the Power of Artificial Intelligence for Dental Hygienists


Artificial intelligence is finding a place in everything these days, and it's important for dental hygienists to see the ways it can help them care for, and connect with patients.

Hygienist Explaining x-rays to a dental patient | Image Credit: © Jack F / stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: © Jack F / stock.adobe.com

Dental hygienists strive each day to deliver the best care and help patients make the most informed decisions about their oral health. We all know how crucial patient education is in a dental practice, especially the way it impacts treatment plan acceptance.

Imagine having a powerful tool that can support this endeavor and bring a new level of standardization to diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Well, you don’t have to stretch your imagination because dental artificial intelligence (AI) is already here to help revolutionize many aspects of dental care.

Periodontal health has many layers of complexity. From inflammation to gingivitis and periodontitis, explaining these stages and their implications to patients is challenging. Any tool that can help relay these complex concepts to patients in a manner they can better understand is welcome.

The team at Commonwealth Dentistry in Richmond, Virginia is passionate about enabling teams with the latest tools and technology to help provide the highest level of care and patient education. An affiliate practice group of Riccobene and Associates, Commonwealth Dentistry eagerly embraced the opportunity to utilize an AI diagnostic support tool after learning the DSO partnered with a dental AI company. Today, with AI-driven visual aids and interactive tools, dentists and hygienists are engaging patients in new ways that make it easier for them to understand the progression of periodontal disease and the importance of maintaining healthy gums.

The Role of Dental AI in Patient Education

Now, let’s dive into the specifics of dental AI and its impact on patient education. Dental AI integrates advanced imaging and data analytics to help illuminate a patient’s oral health in new ways. With these visuals, hygienists can personalize patient education like never before.

For example, the team at Commonwealth Dentistry uses VideaAI, by VideaHealth. It is an AI-powered cloud software for dental clinicians that supports the diagnosis and treatment planning process. For hygiene teams, it makes it easier to help patients understand the condition of their gums by highlighting areas of concern with color-coded measurements that indicate radiographic bone loss levels on x-rays.

Calling out probing depth numbers is one thing, but showing patients the corresponding visuals with bone level measurements makes it much easier to explain the stage and grade of periodontal disease and the specific treatments to address each patient’s individual needs. Dental AI empowers teams to provide a comprehensive understanding of exam findings so patients feel like active participants in their treatment decisions.

Improving Treatment Plan Acceptance with Dental AI

All dental clinicians encounter patients who struggle to understand the potential outcomes of different treatment approaches, or conversely, the effects of delaying treatment. This is where AI truly shines. Dentists and hygienists can bridge this gap and improve treatment plan acceptance by leveraging AI-generated visualizations. AI helps clinicians present treatment recommendations clearly and compellingly, which allows patients to better understand the necessary action and projected outcomes.

One recent case where AI was particularly helpful involved a patient who started smoking after his initial diagnosis of periodontal disease. As hygienists, we all know there’s a proven correlation between smoking and periodontal disease; to the clinical team at Commonwealth, it was evident this was impacting this particular patient's gum health.

AI served as an ally with the comparative AI analysis helping the clinical team tell the story of disease progression. This patient was one who needed the AI-powered visualization and external validation to come to terms with the stark reality of his oral health and the action he needed to take.

No more confused faces or hesitant responses. We can see the potential for dental AI to help us build trust and confidence with more patients, enabling them to make well-informed decisions about their oral health.

Creating a Standardization of Care

Now here’s the icing on the cake; Dental AI can create a much-needed level of standardization among dental teams. As teams embrace this technology, they can streamline diagnosis and treatment recommendations, making certain there is consistency in patient care.

This is especially helpful with borderline cases. Until now, some practices have relied on probe depth numbers and estimation of bone loss on x-rays. But as you know, slight shades of gray in a radiograph can be challenging to interpret at times, especially on a hectic day. VideaAI’s radiographic bone level measurements are based on accurate data that helps put focus on areas of concern, and more precisely determine the proper diagnosis optimal and treatment approach.

At Commonwealth, dental AI is also helping to coach teams of hygienists to establish a standardized process that helps eliminate variability in diagnosis. Not only does this help keep teams on the same page, but it increases confidence that the most accurate and reliable information is being provided to the clinician and the patient.

When every hygienist on a team can utilize the same visual aids, this creates a uniform approach to patient education across appointments, and it’s exciting to see how this unified approach translates in terms of patient outcomes over time.

And let’s not forget about the treasure trove of data and insights gathered through AI. This technology allows practices to analyze this information to refine and improve treatment protocols, and as a result, deliver the best care possible.

Another Tool in the Hygienist's Kit

AI technology can help in numerous ways, but it is critical to strike a balance between dental AI and hygienists’ expertise. While AI can provide valuable insights and recommendations, clinical judgment and human touch remain irreplaceable. Dental AI is a tool that supports dental practices, but it should not and does not override professional judgment. Maintaining a collaborative relationship between AI technology and clinical expertise is essential to ensuring final decisions and recommendations align with years of experience and the needs of individual patients.

Dental AI is a game-changer that empowers clinicians to take patient care to new heights. By leveraging AI-driven visual aids, clinicians can enhance education, simplify complex concepts and improve treatment plan acceptance. Moreover, dental AI allows for greater standardization, consistency, and clinical excellence. As more practices harness AI’s potential, clinicians can create a brighter future for patients that enables better overall health outcomes.

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