AI and Deep Machine Learning in Orthodontics: Evidence-As-We-Go!

It has been a while since I last posted a blog post here on The Orthodontic Notefile, due to many time constraints and responsibilities since the early days of COVID-19. But now, I’d like to start putting out my thoughts again, whenever I can, as the world of Orthodontics has changed considerably since the start of the COVID pandemic, and I’m starting with a post about Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The most promising avenue for the profession is to continue to develop augmented intelligence where the power of AI is harnessed by the orthodontist to the benefit of the patient.

Prof. Jean-Marc Retrouvey

I’ve recently had the honor and pleasure to have been invited to speak at The First India-International Orthodontic Symposium (IIOS 2023), in beautifully-located Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, India, on the topic of Artificial Intelligence and its revolutionary evolution in recent years, and the role it’s playing now – and will be playing in the future – in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning. This event was jointly organized by the Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, The Indian Orthodontic Society and the Eurasian Association of Orthodontists.

In this post, I’d like to share several general points about AI and orthodontics, and also try to pin down my current thoughts on this rapidly-developing subject, and in particular as it may come to relate to Evidence-based Dentistry as we know it!.. so let’s begin.

The field of orthodontics has been revolutionized in recent years, thanks to advances in technology and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). From virtual treatment planning to computer-assisted diagnosis, orthodontic practices are incorporating AI into their workflows to improve patient outcomes and streamline their operations.

Just recently, Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft and its former CEO, boldly announced on his own blog Gates Notes, that The Age of AI has begun. The rapid developments in this field have led “.. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk … [to join] others in writing an open letter saying that AI development should pause following the release of GPT-4. The open letter asks for a minimum of a six-month pause on development of anything more powerful than the GPT-4 AI, suggesting that anything beyond this could prove to be a profound risk to our society.”

In this blog post, we will briefly outline some of the ways in which AI is changing the practice of orthodontics, but first, let’s outline how AI’s Neural Networks work their magic.

How Neural Networks Work

AI neural networks are modeled after the structure of the human brain, consisting of interconnected nodes or “neurons” that work together to process information. These neural networks are typically composed of layers of interconnected nodes, each of which performs a simple mathematical operation on the input it receives, and then passes the output to the next layer.

During the training process, the neural network is presented with a set of input-output pairs, and it adjusts the weights of the connections between nodes in order to minimize the difference between the predicted output and the actual output. This process is typically done using a technique called back propagation, which calculates the error at the output layer and then propagates it backwards through the network to adjust the weights.

Once the network has been trained, it can be used to make predictions on new data. The input is fed into the network, and the output is produced by the final layer of nodes. The outcomes can also be re-introduced into the network creating a continuously-improving Feedback Loop, to further improve predictions with each cycle. The network can be designed to perform a wide variety of tasks, such as image, speech or pattern recognition, and even language translation.

So, what are some of the ways in which AI is changing the landscape of orthodontics?

Computer-Assisted Diagnosis

Diagnosing orthodontic problems can be challenging, requiring a combination of visual examination, X-rays, and other diagnostic tools. With the help of AI, orthodontists can now use computer-assisted diagnosis tools to identify and analyze orthodontic problems more accurately. These tools use algorithms to analyze X-rays and other diagnostic images, providing orthodontists with detailed information about the patient’s dental and facial structures. Computer-assisted diagnosis has several benefits for orthodontists. It allows them to identify problems that may be difficult to detect with the naked eye, such as early signs of tooth decay or gum disease. It also helps orthodontists make more accurate diagnoses, reducing the likelihood of misdiagnosis or missed diagnoses.

Predictive Analytics

Another way in which AI is changing orthodontics is through the use of predictive analytics. Orthodontists can use predictive analytics algorithms to analyze large amounts of patient data, such as treatment history, demographics, and other factors, to predict patient outcomes. This technology can help orthodontists make more informed treatment decisions, allowing them to personalize treatment plans to each patient’s unique needs. For example, predictive analytics can help orthodontists identify which patients are most likely to experience complications during treatment and adjust their treatment plans accordingly. It can also help orthodontists predict how long treatment will take, allowing them to provide more accurate treatment timelines to patients.

Virtual Consultations

Finally, AI is making it easier for patients to access orthodontic care, even from the comfort of their own homes. I had previously written some thoughts on the problems with “blind” online consultations a few years back, however, since the start of the COVID pandemic, rapid change and necessity have sped up the rise of technologies that can deal with this issue more effectively than ever before, allowing orthodontists to provide care while minimizing in-person contact.

With the rise of virtual consultations, patients can now connect with orthodontists remotely, using video conferencing tools and other technologies. This technology has several benefits for patients, including increased convenience and reduced travel time and costs. Virtual consultations also benefit orthodontists, allowing them to reach a broader patient base and provide care to patients who may have difficulty traveling to their office.

There will probably be many more new avenues for AI use in Orthodontics down the line, yet, one of the most important effects of AI on the profession may well turn out to be its effect on Evidence-based orthodontic research.

The future is built around the age of individualization and prediction and a more data- centric model of diagnosis and treatment plan than an experiential model.

Prof. Jean-Marc Retrouvey

How Could AI and Deep Machine Learning change the face of Evidence-based Orthodontics ?

As deep machine learning becomes more prominent in the field of orthodontics, it is important to consider the role of evidence-based research in guiding its implementation.

In a Flipping-the-table-on-its-head type of scenario, conventional studies and statistical methods that currently help provide us with evidence may well become outmoded and outdated, even slow and inaccurate in their ability to respond to the rapid change needed in the new age of Orthodontics 4.0; “the age of treatment individualization, prediction and simulation”, as Prof. JM Retrouvey states in one of his published works on AI:

Retrouvey JM, Conley RS. Decoding Deep Learning applications for diagnosis and treatment planning. Dental Press J Orthod. 2022;27(5):e22spe5.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the practice of evidence-based dentistry and orthodontics in the next decade by providing faster, more accurate, and more personalized diagnoses and treatment plans, in REAL TIME; i.e. Evidence-As-You-Go!

Here are some quick notes on how AI can become the next stage of evolution in this field:

1. AI can analyze large amounts of data: One of the biggest advantages of AI is its ability to analyze massive amounts of data quickly and accurately. By analyzing large data sets, AI algorithms can identify patterns and relationships that may not be apparent to human researchers.

2. AI can improve diagnosis and provide personalized treatment plans: AI can analyze medical images, such as X-rays and CT scans, to help dentists and orthodontists detect and diagnose problems more accurately. This can lead to earlier detection and more effective treatment. AI algorithms can use all this gathered patient data, such as medical history, dental records, and imaging data, to create personalized treatment plans. This can lead to better outcomes and a more efficient use of resources.

3. AI can improve patient outcomes: By providing more accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans, AI has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce the need for follow-up appointments.

4. Ultimately, AI can streamline research: AI algorithms can analyze research data more quickly and accurately than traditional statistical methods. This can lead to more efficient and effective research, and may help identify new treatments and technologies.

Looking ahead into the future, Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the practice of evidence-based dentistry and orthodontics in the next decade by providing faster, more accurate, and more personalized diagnoses and treatment plans, in REAL TIME; i.e. Evidence-As-You-Go!

As neural networks keep self-improving through the continuous high quantities and quality of data introduced to them, as well as through their own feedback loops, our diagnoses, treatments and outcomes will be constantly and continuously validated or dis-approved in a manner that may render some or most traditional evidence-based methods obsolete!…

Too far-fetched, you might say?.. Time will tell.

In conclusion, AI and deep machine learning have the potential to revolutionize orthodontic care. By providing more personalized treatment plans and streamlining research, these technologies could lead to better patient outcomes and faster development of new treatments. However, it is important to approach these technologies with a critical eye and ensure that patient privacy and data security are properly addressed. As the field of orthodontics continues to evolve, we can expect to see further innovations in the use of AI and machine learning in the years ahead.

P.S. Case-in-point; This blog post was partially written with the assistance of AI in researching and streamlining some parts of its content.

One thought on “AI and Deep Machine Learning in Orthodontics: Evidence-As-We-Go!

  1. Great post.
    Looking forward to the time – sooner probably than we’ll expect – when Ai can assist us, orthodontists, in improving our diagnosis and treatment planning for better patient outcomes. We will soon be telling ourselves,” How didn’t I think of that.” 😂
    Thank you for writing this informative post.


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