Today: The dentist with the help of an assistant gathers diagnostic information; he/she sticks the teeth with an explorer, observes the tissue, probes the sulcus, palpates, looks for red or white lesions, checks the bite with carbin paper, takes radiographs and fills the patient’s mouth with goo to make a study model.
The dentist then makes a diagnosis based on his/her subjective evaluations of how things looked or felt compared to some personal norm based on training and experience.
Future: All diagnostic information is collected in a few minutes using two digital scanning devices. A cone beam like device does two rapid radiographic scans of the head one with the teeth occluded and another as the patient opens wide. The second device goes in the mouth and does scans with different types of light. This intraoral scan picks up changes in temperature indicating inflammation; it detects bacterial fluorescence indicating the effectiveness of home care and carious activity. It detects calculus. It evaluates translucence. It detects changes in the epithelium that indicate cancer or other changes.
This digital information isn’t seen by the dentist but is examined by the dental software. Once the data is collected the software using artificial intelligence compares all the findings to a gigantic data base. The data base and the diagnostic software are not in the dental office but stored on enormous secure servers the dentist can access through the Internet. The data base has a huge range of both normal and pathological findings. Based on this the software provides a differential diagnosis, a very accurate probability of diagnostic accuracy and a course of treatment.
The software displays a 3D image of the mouth, the hard and soft tissue, even facial features. The dentist can manipulate the image in space to observe from all sides and even watch the TMJ move through an opening sequence. The software can zoom in to display a single tooth, highlight a lesion or show bacterial plaque..