Software and Services

How AI helps diagnose dental problems

29 June 2022
Overjet uses artificial intelligence to explain dental X-rays for dentists. Source: MIT

Overjet, a company founded by MIT alumni, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and explain X-rays to dentists and insurance providers.

The goal is to use AI to take the subjectivity out of X-ray interpretations to improve patient care.

“It’s about moving toward more precision medicine, where we have the right treatments at the right time,” said Wardah Inam, co-founder of Overjet. “That’s where technology can help. Once we quantify the disease, we can make it very easy to recommend the right treatment.”

The technology has been cleared to detect and outline cavities and to quantify bone levels to aid in the diagnosis of periodontal disease — a preventable gum infection.

The AI software can also be designed to help dentists show patients the problems and explain why they recommend certain treatments.

Already, Overjet has analyzed tens of millions of X-rays and is working with insurance companies with more than 75 million patients in the U.S.

Variations in treatment

Overjet is designed to work with dentists to help give the best recommendations to patients. One of the issues when the company first started working with dental organizations was that it found the treatment recommendations vary widely depending on the problem. For example, a cavity could be treated with a filling, crown, root canal, bridge and more.

In periodontal disease, dentists take millimeter-level assessments to determine disease progression and severity.

“I felt technology could play a big role in not only enhancing the diagnosis but also to communicate with the patients more effectively, so they understand and don't have to go through the confusing process I did of wondering who's right,” Inam said.

How it works

Dental X-rays are entered into a computer once they are taken. Overjet’s AI software then analyzes and explains the images automatically so that when the image appears on the screen, it has information on what type of X-ray was taken, how a tooth is impacted, the level of bone loss with color overlays, location and severity of cavities, and more.

This information gives dentists more data about treatment options and how a patient's teeth need to be treated.

“Now the dentist or hygienist just has to synthesize that information, and they use the software to communicate with you,” Inam said. “So, they'll show you the X-rays with Overjet's annotations and say, 'You have 4 millimeters of bone loss, it's in red, that's higher than the 3 millimeters you had last time you came, so I'm recommending this treatment.”

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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