As eager as many sectors are to embrace artificial intelligence and robots, dental patients are only lukewarm to the idea of an autonomous machine operating within the tight confines of their mouths. In an online survey of more than 500 people, researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida asked people how they felt about the idea of robotic dentists.
Robots are already creeping into dentistry with digital impressions and 3D modeling. However for most people the idea of a robot actually working in their mouth is uncomfortable.
Not surprising people are most comfortable with the idea of a robot performing what are perceived as simple non invasive procedures such as cleanings or whitening.
Real humans are also perceived as being more artistic than machines. When it comes to aesthetics people prefer humans to robots.
Despite all this robots will be doing dentistry in the future. They may be autonomous or controlled by a human from afar. Full automation will not happen in the near future but it is coming.
Interestingly Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s first book “Player Piano” written in 1952 describes a future society where automation has taken over making human labor obsolete. The only job that machines could not do was dentistry.