AssistDent, which can improve the accuracy of early tooth decay diagnosis and prevention, is being tested for the first time in Scotland.

Glasgow-based dental group Clyde Munro Dental Group has started a pilot with five of its dentists providing feedback for the development of AssistDent, created by AI dental specialists, Manchester Imaging.

The technology is designed to improve early detection of potential enamel breakdown, specifically enamel-only proximal (the surface in-between teeth) decay.

AssistDent works by using machine learning algorithms to analyse dental radiographs (x-rays) and highlight or confirm areas of concern.

Ideally if enamel change is caught early enough, fillings can be avoided, and the enamel change managed by non-invasive methods including fluoride treatments.

Tooth decay remains the most common non-communicable disease worldwide and the leading cause of tooth loss. The pandemic’s overall negative impact on oral health has only served to worsen the situation in Scotland.

Clyde Munro’s Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Wood, said: “Scotland has a major problem with tooth decay and if decay is left untreated it can lead to teeth being lost.

“We always aim for prevention – and this technology has the potential to support our dentists in identifying the early signs of tooth decay before it develops and to direct the prevent care needed to the correct teeth. The AI is a useful tool to show and demonstrate to patients the areas of dental need or concern to give them the chance to reverse enamel changes with support from Clyde Munro dentists.

“Clyde Munro has always been enthusiastic early adopters of new technologies which improve patient-experience and improve Scotland’s dental health. AssistDent could make a big difference and we are proud to be working with Manchester Imaging to maximise that potential.”

The technology is being used by the group across both private and NHS treatment plans. The five dentists involved in the pilot are based in Bishopbriggs and Partick in Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Lothians.

Manchester Imaging Chief Executive Officer, Tony Travers, said: “Artificial intelligence is playing a central role in improving dental health globally and we are delighted our software has been embraced by Clyde Munro and is playing a part in enhancing dental standards across Scotland.

“AssistDent is a highly effective diagnostic tool which supports preventative dentistry, improves dental practice efficiency and encourages greater clinician-patient communications, which all contributes to better dental health outcomes.”

Monica Febrero Smith, a dentist at Coia & Associates in Partick, Glasgow is one of the dentists involved in the pilot.

Smith said: “The AssistDent technology has so far been very accurate and it is helping support the care we provide to patients.

“We’re only at the very beginning of this journey, but it’s hugely exciting to see AI developments already starting to have a positive impact on the treatment of patients in practice in Scotland.”