Understanding Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry with Dr. Marty Jablow


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Understanding Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry

Episode #436 with Dr. Marty Jablow

Artificial intelligence isn't taking over dentistry — yet. But it is changing what dentists can do. AI can enhance your dentistry, and Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Marty Jablow, president of Dental Technology Solutions and “America’s dental technology coach,” to explain how AI can improve diagnosis, boost treatment planning, and help you to help your patients in brand new ways. If you want to take your dentistry from Jurassic Park to state-of-the-art, listen to Episode 436 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

AI is an enhancement for dentists, not a replacement.

Understand why you need a particular piece of technology.

Ask yourself what the technology is going to do for you.

Choose the technology that is right for your practice.

You don't need a high budget to be high tech.

Don't be on the trailing end of technology.


“We’re in a place now where we’re not necessarily doing something new, we’re just finding better and more efficient ways to do them.” (4:10—4:18)

“If we take it out of dentistry, there are many places — there's radiology of the brain and things like that — where [AI is] as good as a radiologist. What that does is it opens it up for other people in places that may not have that expertise to get that expertise. If I'm in some unforsaken place that doesn't have that kind of person available, well, that may mean that I can use this AI to make a better diagnosis than I would maybe on my own.” (9:23—9:53)

“When I've used [AI] real-time in my office, it might point out areas that I need to look at. It’s not necessarily making the final diagnosis. That is still left to me. Takes a human being to do that. It’s complex. But with that, it points out areas that are suspect. And with that, then I can use other data points — see, that's the whole thing. To me, it’s all about how many data points can I have to make the best decision possible. Well, the AI is looking at these radiographs and making that determination from the radiograph.” (9:55—10:34)

“Ultimately, do I think [AI] will lead to a decrease in dentists? Yes. Will it be any time in the next 10 years? The answer is probably no. But ultimately, yes, because technology is going to catch up with a lot of things. It won't catch up with abuse, neglect, and all of those things. That, it won't be. And accidents. But what it will do, and I've seen some of this, we’re going to have more precision in what we do.” (13:08—13:36)

“If I can place something in a patient’s mouth and have a laser drill the very minimum to get things accomplished, and then restore it almost in the exact same manner, it’s going to be beneficial to everyone.” (13:42—13:56)

“[AI] may not take the doctor out of the room — it’s the number of doctors that you need in the room.” (14:44—14:49)

“Whenever you're going to implement or want to acquire new technology, there's one important question: what is it going to do for you? That's first off. And then, is there an ROI? Now, not all ROI is necessarily money. Sometimes, dentists need something to kick them in the butt to get excited about dentistry again, or something new and different, or that kind of thing. So, when I look at that, I kind of look at it the same way. But the first thing is, what are you asking it to do for you? Is it going to make your life more efficient? Is it going to give you better treatment? Is it going to give you better outcomes? What is it going to do? Because if you can't answer that question, why do you need it?” (16:40—17:25)

“You have to pick what works for you. And why do you do it? So, an example would be, depending on the cost of your crown, can you make enough money to justify the mill? I think everybody can justify an intraoral scanner. But can they justify the mill, the $50,000 to $75,000 for the mill and the cost of the blocks? Because you can get crowns now, done — now, depending on what you're doing and who you're doing it with — for sub $100, sub $50, sub $40. So, with that, you have to justify that purchase.” (19:52—20:37)

“The most important thing, every room — hygiene, doctors — needs an intraoral camera. You can go buy one, a MouthWatch. Shofu has their version of that. That's a start because the patient has to buy in. You want to show it to them. Now, most of my patients, at this point, I've been seeing them for years. They trust pretty much everything I say. But with that, I want to show them. I want to show the before and after, or I want to show the decay inside the tooth. Why? It helps justify why I'm doing it. And then, also a medical and legal standpoint is, you can always justify what you did.” (21:20—21:59)

“Yes, I like having the cone beam in my office. The oral surgeon likes it in my office. The periodontist likes it in my office. I've got a group practice, so it’s not the same as the small, general practice that I had years ago. So, with that, you have to make that determination. Does that fit in what I need it to do? Back to the same question, what do I need it to do for me? If you're not doing any of those things and you're referring out most of those procedures, then that may be superfluous. But the intraoral scanner, you're taking impressions, you're taking ortho molds. You may be doing all of those things, and that's different.” (24:45—25:22)

“There's not a procedure right now that I do that I was taught in dental school and how to do it that way. The closest is probably an extraction. But the materials have changed. The technologies have changed. That doesn't mean the basic tenets disappeared. It means that we've got better tools and techniques than we did 30 years ago. Or as I like to call it, what was state-of-the-art 30 years ago, I look now back at and go, ‘That was pretty barbaric.’ And now, it’s the same thing. I was a young kid out of dental school. Now, I look at it and go, ‘Okay, I'm doing state-of-the-art,’ and I am actually doing pretty much state-of-the-art. But 30 years from now, what I'm doing today will be barbaric.” (26:03—26:45)

“We have to always think, what's the next thing? Now, the next thing isn't always better. Everybody doesn't need to be on the bleeding edge like I am. The bleeding edge is not necessarily where you need to be. But when you have that bell curve, you don't want to be at the end of it either. You want to be dead center? I'm okay with it. But I wouldn't want to be the trailing person all the time. And a lot of these people, it’s because they don't want to spend the money. And you've got to remember too, when we look at it, some of these scanners are between $40,000 and $50,000 if you buy the ones with all the bells and whistles. But you don't always need that. There are used ones.” (27:20—28:05)

“Pick what you think is right for you. And all of these companies are selling both the latest and the greatest, and probably a generation earlier than that. And the generation earlier than that may not be so bad. Right now, we have scanners that are probably from $18,000 to $40,000. For the most part, they all will get the job done. They're all fairly accurate. They all can do things. How well you scan is more on the dentist than the hardware. What software comes with it matters too . . . And now, we get to go different ways. And now, you get to do things that you couldn't do before.” (28:15—29:04)

“[What dentists get wrong about AI is] everything because they don't even understand it. Because the average dentist hasn’t even looked at it. So, they're not even sure what it’s going to do for them or what it’s not going to do for them. Here’s a perfect example. In a lot of the scanning software, there's AI built into it. It knows to take certain things out of the picture. But they don't realize that. And that's okay, because that's a good use of AI in that people don't understand it, it just works for them. They don't have to understand it. I'm okay with that. But you have to understand that portion of it.” (30:45—31:22)

“There are some downsides [to AI] too. None of us want to see fraud done. So, I think we’ll all agree if the insurance companies could use AI to decrease the amount of fraud, that's a good thing. Totally agree there. But there's going to be AI that's going to be used to regulate what they cover and treat. They're going to look at radiographs and some other things, and they're going to use AI to then determine that this is acceptable or unacceptable.” (31:29—31:57)

“The thing that I think is the biggest game changer is going to be digital printing, because the chemistry is changing so fast and so quickly that we’re able to do things that we couldn't before. Where we couldn't make a single-unit crown quickly, we can now. Partials, dentures, nightguards can now all be printed. We’re getting to the point where we can print aligners in the office.” (37:59—38:27)

“We had a bell curve again, and we had the people on the bleeding edge who took us into this. And now, what's happening is the average dentist goes, ‘I don't want to deal with all of the pieces of that puzzle.’ They don't have to. I can take the scan, I can now email that to a lab guy, who then produces the files that now come back to my office that may go directly to my printer, and somebody just has to hit the button. Now, it prints. I've got all of that stuff done, and there may be no turnaround time.” (38:34—39:11)

“Right now, there are a couple different materials, Flexcera, Onyx, that are changing the way we print dentures, where if somebody said, ‘I love this denture,’ and we’ve all heard the story, the person who comes in with a box of dentures and none of them fit, and they don't like them. But there's one that they wear every day, and it’s the one that's 30 years old that nobody else has been able to duplicate. Well, what happens if I scan that and make a direct copy of that? I'm the hero. And that's the kind of stuff that we can do. We’re taking what, in many cases, dentistry thought was difficult and impossible, and we’re making it possible.” (39:35—40:19)


0:00 Introduction.

1:49 Dr. Jablow’s background.

2:42 How tech has changed over the years.

6:32 Where we’re at with AI today.

8:59 AI is an enhancement.

11:09 Will we need dentists in the future?

16:02 Two important questions to ask.

20:40 Buy an intraoral camera.

25:23 Why there's still some resistance to scanners.

26:45 Choose technology that is right for you.

30:34 What most dentists get wrong about AI.

31:23 The downsides of AI.

35:23 The International Dental Show.

37:34 The future of AI in dentistry.

42:11 Dr. Jablow’s contact information.

Reach Out to Dr. Jablow:

Dr. Jablow’s email: marty@dentaltechnologycoach.com

Dr. Jablow’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jablow

Dr. Jablow’s blog: https://dentechblog.blogspot.com/

Dr. Jablow’s social media: @martyjablow

Dr. Marty Jablow Bio:

Dr. Martin Jablow, DMD, is a clinician, speaker, and author. He presents and publishes worldwide on many topics, including state-of-the-art dental technology and dental materials. His recurring columns can be found on DrBicuspid.com and Dental-LearningHub.com's Apex Magazine.

Dr. Jablow is president of Dental Technology Solutions, a lecture and consulting company. He is an active member of the ADA, NJDA, Middlesex County Dental Association, and has achieved Fellowships in the AGD and International Academy of Dental Facial Esthetics. Dr. Jablow serves on the Dentalcompare CE Advisory Board, along with the Eco-Dentistry Association Advisory Board.

For over 20 years, he has been a member of his local peer review. He also attended the JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, where he worked with patients and trained residents. As the Internet has grown, so has Dr. Jablow's online presence, with his dental blog, webinars, and as host of TakeFiveWithMarty.com.

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