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Why AI is Not Yet Useful in Clear Aligner Treatment Planning

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become increasingly popular in dentistry, particularly in the field of orthodontics. However, despite its potential benefits, AI is not yet useful in clear aligner treatment planning. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the reasons why AI has not yet been successful in clear aligner treatment planning.

Limited Dataset Availability

One of the biggest challenges in developing AI algorithms for clear aligner treatment planning is the limited availability of high-quality datasets. Clear aligner treatment planning involves complex three-dimensional movements of teeth, which requires a large and diverse dataset to accurately train AI models. However, current datasets are often limited and do not capture the full range of tooth movements that can occur in a patient's mouth. Even though Invisalign has datasets from more than 10 million treatments it is far from enough.

Two sets of hands in front of two computers indicating they are discussing a case.

Lack of Standardization

Another challenge in using AI for clear aligner treatment planning is the lack of standardization in treatment protocols. Orthodontic treatment planning is highly individualized and depends on a range of factors, including patient age, dental history, and treatment goals. As a result, it can be difficult to develop an AI algorithm that can accurately predict the optimal clear aligner treatment plan for each patient.

When it comes to standardization. Just think about how hard it is to make 3 dentists agree on an ideal treatment on any given patient. With 10.000+ dentists delivering clear aligner treatments all over the globe on several different human species, all with individual needs. It becomes increasingly clear why this factor alone is a huge challenge for any AI to handle.

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Complexity of Clear Aligner Treatment Planning

Clear aligner treatment planning is a complex process that involves multiple stages, including initial diagnosis (which is often an overlooked part of the treatment planning proces), treatment planning, and post-treatment monitoring. AI algorithms are currently unable to fully replicate the decision-making process of a trained orthodontist or dental professional, which can lead to inaccuracies in treatment planning.

There is a reason it takes 3-4 years to become an orthodontist. It is so easy to look at a computergenerated simulation. However there is often a big difference between what is illustrated on the screen and what will happen in reality. Add to that the challenges positioning the teeth correct in regards to the airways, phonetics and extraoral soft tissue.

Often times the simple cases are quite straight forward. In class I patients with a bit of crowding, it is rather easy to achieve a reasonable treatment result. Aligner treatments with a plan generated by the AI CAN result in a decent end result with this kind of cases.

But when it comes to the moderate and complex cases (Class II and III) it becomes increasingly complex and challenging to plan a reasonable treatment. Not only in regards to the occlusion and dental aesthetics. But also the airways and extraoral soft tissue profile.

Limited Ability to Account for Patient Preferences

Finally, AI algorithms have limited ability to account for patient preferences and concerns. Clear aligner treatment planning involves a range of factors beyond just clinical considerations, including patient lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, and treatment cost. A human orthodontist or dental professional is better able to incorporate these factors into treatment planning decisions than an AI algorithm.

In conclusion, while AI has the potential to revolutionize the field of clear aligner treatment planning, it is not yet useful due to several key challenges, including limited dataset availability, lack of standardization, complexity of treatment planning, and limited ability to account for patient preferences. As technology and datasets continue to improve, AI may become a useful tool in clear aligner treatment planning in the future, but for now, the human touch remains essential.

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Dentist Jesper Hatt clear aligner treatment planning expert

Many kind regards

Jesper Hatt DDS

Please note that this blog exclusively describes the treatment of adult patients where growth has been completed. Our recommendation is that all paediatric patients and all patients requiring orthognathic surgical treatment are treated by orthodontists.


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