AI Revolutionizes Oral Healthcare: Experts Discuss the Potential at the Global Symposium on AI & Dentistry

Dental professionals and researchers gather at Harvard to explore the transformative power of AI in oral healthcare and address barriers in the field.

The inaugural Global Symposium on AI & Dentistry held at Harvard University brought together dental practitioners, researchers, and policymakers from around the world to discuss the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in revolutionizing oral healthcare. With the promise of transforming the way oral healthcare is practiced, AI has the potential to improve disease detection, treatment, and increase access to care. The symposium showcased numerous research projects and prototypes that highlighted the intersection of AI and dentistry, offering a glimpse into the future of oral healthcare.

Harnessing AI to address barriers in oral healthcare:

After decades of experimentation, AI capabilities in dentistry have finally reached critical mass. AI-powered tools are now assisting dentists in identifying dental decay in patients up to five years earlier than traditional methods. Florian Hillen, founder and CEO of VideaHealth, a dental imaging startup, emphasized that the tech revolution in dentistry is happening. Researchers are also leveraging AI to address population-level health challenges by breaking down the boundaries between scientific disciplines. Multimodal data will be increasingly used across various fields, and AI will become the predominant methodology for predictions and decision-making.

Using AI to analyze climate-change-related impacts on oral health:

At Harvard, cross-disciplinary teams are utilizing machine learning to identify patients whose social determinants of health put them at higher risk of climate-change-related impacts. By analyzing satellite data, atmospheric chemistry models, and other factors, researchers can determine which communities are most affected by wildfires, extreme heat waves, and destructive storms. The reduced air quality and increased psychological stress from these events can have adverse effects on oral health. AI can play a crucial role in understanding and mitigating these impacts.

Augmenting human knowledge in biomedical research:

AI is also being deployed in biomedical research to optimize experiments, therapeutic discovery, and preclinical validation. It has the potential to revolutionize individualized therapies, design new drugs, and simulate experiments and outcomes. Knowledge graph AI models, such as TxGNN, are being developed to predict the effectiveness of therapeutics in treating unique diseases and recommend new uses for FDA-approved medications. A survey of biomedical researchers revealed that 25 percent of them believe AI will be essential to their studies within the next decade.

AI-assistive technologies in dental care:

In dental practices, AI-assistive technologies are already making waves. Platforms that focus on using AI to interpret and analyze imaging are being used by patients, providers, and payers. AI software is also automating patient engagement, scheduling, and other time-consuming tasks for dental practices. These AI tools are designed to assist dentists, not replace them. For example, some tools allow dentists to remotely analyze patient-submitted oral photos, while others guide patients in capturing images of their teeth and detect signs of declining oral health. AI-guided 3D simulations are helping orthodontists accelerate fittings and transition between different dental appliances.

The importance of prudence and ethical considerations:

While the potential of AI in oral healthcare is exciting, experts emphasize the need for prudence and ethical considerations. AI lacks empathy, creativity, and imagination, which are essential human factors in problem-solving. Guidelines and policies often lag behind the deployment of new technologies, and issues of fairness and bias need to be addressed. Transparency and engagement with AI systems are crucial, especially in high-stakes situations like making accurate diagnoses. Trust and confidence in AI systems are necessary for their successful adoption in healthcare.


The Global Symposium on AI & Dentistry at Harvard University highlighted the transformative potential of AI in oral healthcare. From improving disease detection and treatment to addressing population-level health challenges, AI has the power to revolutionize the field. However, ethical considerations and the need for human engagement and transparency must not be overlooked. As AI continues to evolve, dental practices, researchers, and policymakers must embrace its potential while ensuring that it aligns with the values and needs of patients and healthcare providers. With the right balance, AI can truly revolutionize oral healthcare and improve the lives of patients worldwide.






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