Disruptive Innovation in Dentistry: What It Is and What Could Be Next

J Dent Res. 2021 May;100(5):448-453. doi: 10.1177/0022034520978774. Epub 2020 Dec 16.


Dentistry is a technically oriented profession, and the health care sector is significantly influenced by the ubiquitous trend of digitalization. Some of these digital developments have the potential to result in disruptive changes for dental practice, while others may turn out to be just a pipedream. This Discovery! essay focuses on innovations built on artificial intelligence (AI) as the center-technology influencing 1) dental eHealth data management, 2) clinical and technical health care applications, and 3) services and operations. AI systems enable personalized dental medicine workflows by analyzing all eHealth data gathered from an individual patient. Besides dental-specific data, this also includes genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic information and therefore facilitates optimized and personalized treatment strategies and risk management. Based on the power of AI, the triangular frame of "data"/"health care"/"service" is supplemented by technological advancements in the field of social media, Internet of things, augmented and virtual reality, rapid prototyping, and intraoral optical scanning as well as teledentistry. Innovation continues to be critical to tackle dental problems until its routine implementation based on sound scientific evidence. Novel technologies must be viewed critically in relation to the cost-benefit ratio and the ethical implications of a misleading diagnosis or treatment produced by AI algorithms. Highly sensitive eHealth data must be handled responsibly to enable the immense benefits of these technologies to be realized for society. The focus on patient-centered research and the development of personalized dental medicine have the potential to improve individual and public health, as well as clarify the interconnectivity of disease in a more cost-effective way.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; augmented reality; digital transformation; personalized dental medicine; rapid prototyping; teledentistry.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dentistry
  • Humans
  • Proteomics*