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08 August 2023

Dentists could soon have a new AI co-pilot to detect tooth decay

An artificial intelligence (AI) platform is allowing dentists and dental students to read radiograms (X-rays) with higher accuracy, helping them to better detect tooth decay and gum diseases.

Photo showing AI-assisted detection of early interproximal caries on a 'bitewing' X-ray
AI-assisted detection of early interproximal caries on a 'bitewing' X-ray

The platform, developed by King’s College London and the University of Surrey, with partners from Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, and Oral Health Foundation, allows an AI model to recognise abnormalities in anatomical structures.

This project aims to provide a one-stop solution to both collect and annotate dental radiographs and assist with disease diagnoses while building on how best to implement this in a clinical setting.

The venture has received £1.55 million in grant funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Dr Yunpeng Li, Senior lecturer in Artificial Intelligence and the project lead at the University of Surrey, commented:

"The technology could save valuable time and money if rolled out more widely, enabling dentists to have abnormalities pop up in front of them and read radiograms with higher accuracy.

"This next phase of the project is incredibly exciting as we work collaboratively to build a working prototype suitable for real-life clinical settings. Efforts so far have included gathering a representative set of annotated radiograms and training a custom-built AI model on dental disease detection. We look forward to comprehensive outcomes over the next few years."

Professor Owen Addison, Professor of Oral Rehabilitation and the joint project lead at King's College London, said:

"AI systems that support more accurate diagnosis and clinical decision-making will help patients, but they must be trustworthy. We look forward to supporting this project by providing dental expertise and consideration of the needs of end-users."


In this story

Professor Owen Addison

Head of Centre for Oral, Clinical & Translational Sciences