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AI in dentistry: Researchers find that artificial intelligence can create better dental crowns

Artificial intelligence is playing an ever-wider role in health and wellness, helping with everything from cancer detection to medical documentation. Soon, AI will make it easier for dentists to give their patients a more natural and functional smile.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong recently developed an AI algorithm that uses 3D machine learning to design. personalized dental crowns According to a university press release, it is more accurate than traditional methods.

The AI ​​analyzes data on teeth adjacent to the crown to ensure a more natural and precise fit than crowns made with current methods, the researchers said.

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The research results were published in the journal Dental Materials.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) website, a crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over an existing tooth or implant to create the appearance of a natural tooth.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong recently developed an AI algorithm that uses 3D machine learning (not shown) to design personalized dental crowns with greater accuracy than traditional methods. (St. Petersburg)

Crowns are commonly used to improve the appearance and function of damaged, deformed, weakened or discolored teeth, or to replace missing teeth in conjunction with artificial implants.

Today, most dental crowns are created using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software.

While this process is a significant improvement over traditional methods of creating crowns, it still has limitations, the release states.

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The software uses a “tooth library” containing crown templates, which must be manually adjusted to the individual patient’s needs.

According to the press release, “Two existing methods of designing crowns result in crowns that are either too large or too thin to reach the same lifespan as natural teeth.”

In the Hong Kong study, researchers used 3D machine learning techniques to “teach” AI algorithms the results of more than 600 natural, healthy teeth, said Hao Ding, a collaborator on the project. said in a press release, Dr.

3D dental technology

Today, most dental crowns are created using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. (St. Petersburg)

“During the training process, the morphological features of natural teeth were learned by the algorithm, allowing us to design crowns that are morphologically and functionally comparable to natural teeth,” he adds. rice field.

When researchers compared AI-designed crowns with crowns created using CAD/CAM methods, they found that the AI ​​versions were both aesthetically and functionally superior.

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“It utilizes a 3D-DCGAN (3D-Deep Convolutional Generative Adversarial Network) to mimic both the morphology and biomechanics of natural teeth, as well as high-precision personalization that can be manipulated without additional human fine-tuning. It shows that we can design a modified crown, which saves additional costs in the manufacturing process,” said principal investigator Dr. James Tsoi in a press release.

Clinical trials using generative AI to create crowns have already begun.

“Many AI approaches design ‘look-alike’ products, but I believe this is the first project to functionalize data-driven AI. [a] It’s a real dental application,” he said.

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Clinical trials using generative AI to create crowns have already begun. In the future, the research team hopes to use this technology to create dentures and bridges.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the research team for comment.

Weighing the benefits and risks of AI in crowns

The owner, Tejas Patel, Austin, TX Cosmetic Dentistrywas not involved in the University of Hong Kong study, but reviewed its results.

woman at the dentist

“Creating artificial teeth such as dentures and crowns takes a significant amount of time for individual patients,” a dental professional (not pictured) told Fox News Digital. “This means higher costs and more room for error.” (St. Petersburg)

“I have used CAM technology in the past to manufacture crowns for patients,” he told Fox News Digital. “Creating artificial teeth such as dentures and crowns takes a significant amount of time for individual patients, which means higher costs and more room for error.”

The idea of ​​using generative AI to create a “near-perfect” crown could save time and money, Patel predicted.

“Using generative AI, these processes are able to more accurately create personalized crowns using previous data, shaped with enough precision to be nearly as long and long-lasting as real teeth.” you can,” he said.

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Additionally, using generative AI in dentistry could help patients better maintain oral health simply by taking a picture of their teeth, Patel said.

“Dentists can easily upload images of their patients and diagnose diseases,” he said.

But Patel noted that it could be a long time before the technology is available in the United States, as clinical trials need to be conducted.

crown

Crowns are commonly used to improve the appearance and function of damaged, deformed, weakened, or discolored teeth. It is also used in conjunction with artificial implants to replace missing teeth. (St. Petersburg)

“Other researchers may notice this effect sooner, but it will be the next year or so before patients feel it,” he predicted.

Privacy risks may also be a concern, Patel warned.

Dental technician jobs may be lost.

“Generative AI uses databases of stored patient data, and this data can be compromised if the necessary cybersecurity measures are not put in place,” he said.

Another potential drawback of AI in dentistry is the possible loss of dental technician jobs, said Fatima Khan, a dentist and co-founder of Riven Oral Care in Houston, Texas. To do.

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“Dental technicians who have honed their skills and have a keen eye for aesthetics will pay higher lab fees,” said Khan, who was not involved in the Hong Kong study.

“Over time, as more cases are enrolled in the dental library, the volume of data analyzed and completed may yield better cases than individual technician cases.”

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Another drawback, Khan said, is that it makes dentists and technicians more dependent on the equipment, which can break down.

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