Your next X-ray at Winchester Dental could reveal more detail in color and more clearly than ever, thanks to our newest digital technology. A new AI-based interface enhances your X-rays in clear, easy-to-read focus, helping to reveal the earliest stages of treatable—or even preventable—dental issues. Kelly Richardson, DDS explains how this is a win-win for doctors and patients alike, and Gio Iuculano, DDS talks about our patients’ reactions.
What is the new technology?
The new technology is called Second Opinion®. It is cloud-based software that works with the X-rays we take in the office. The software uses artificial intelligence to analyze an X-ray and highlight areas needing a doctor’s extra attention.
How does it work with an X-ray?
After we take an X-ray, this technology highlights specific areas of the teeth and gums for a doctor to examine more closely. The AI can detect more shades of gray (between 500 and 800 shades) than we can see with our eyes (approximately 30), and calls attention to areas that doctors might not be able to discern by viewing an X-ray on their own.
Can you explain the traditional X-ray and the enhancement in the images above?
In the traditional X-ray image, the circled light pink area is the beginning of a cavity. We can see it if we look closely enough. But because the image displays limited shades of gray, the enamel is harder to see and its depth is more difficult to determine. Meanwhile, existing fillings tend to blend in with the tooth area around them, making them more difficult to recognize.
In contrast, the colored image clearly shows and outlines the different parts of the teeth. The enamel is purple; dentin is lighter green; pulp is bright pink; the beige floating spots are fillings; and the root (in the bone) is shown in teal. (The completely white tooth is an implant.) The white part of the bone is within the normal limit; areas of bone loss will show in different colors. The enhanced image can also more easily reveal gum disease and areas needing root canals.
(Related blog post: Sensitive Teeth: What Should I Know?)
How does enhancing a dental X-ray benefit patients and doctors?
With the enhanced images, patients can see a clear image that includes different colors and sharp focus, which makes it easy for a doctor to explain what’s in the X-ray. The technology doesn’t replace doctors, but it does enable us to communicate more easily with patients. If the beginning of a cavity appears, we will prescribe increased fluoride (with a special toothpaste, for example) and try to remineralize that area.
There’s no extra charge to our patients for this technology, and we love how easy it makes it to understand and explain everything.
For us as doctors, the cloud-based software means we can log in and use it throughout the office; we’re not dependent on sitting in one place. And because the AI works according to an algorithm, it provides consistency in interpreting X-ray results. This is important with six doctors in our office!
“This breaks everything down visually and makes it easy to communicate without complicated dental terminology,” says Dr. Richardson. “It is great at making an issue such as the depth of a cavity stand out for us as providers, and at helping us show it to patients, for example.”
Is there a voice component—does it “talk” to you about an X-ray?
No, the technology doesn’t talk, but as it shows the images, doctors can navigate through it and explain to patients what they are seeing.
So patients can see the results as you’re using the technology?
Yes, it’s up on the screen. Patients can see it if they want. It really is a game-changer!
How have patients reacted to seeing their X-rays in color, and what have they asked about this new technology?
“Our patients’ most common response has been, ‘It makes more sense; I can see what you’re talking about,’” says Dr. Gio. “They also tell us that the various colors help them to understand things more easily.”
Is it time for your next dental visit and X-rays? Schedule an appointment now!