An international study led by researchers at the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Hong Kong has developed and tested a new AI model for screening gingivitis, or gum inflammation, from images inside the mouth.
The study, which is one of the first to explore the use of AI in spotting gingivitis, made use of 550 gum images with varying degrees of inflammation.
Based on findings, which were published in the International Dental Journal, the official journal of the World Dental Federation, the novel AI model is able to identify signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, and bleeding, along the gum with over 90% accuracy.
Researchers from Hong Kong Chu Hai College’s Department of Computer Science, the School of Information Engineering at Guangdong University of Technology, and the National University of Malaysia’s Faculty of Dentistry were also involved in the study.
WHY IT MATTERS
Gum inflammation is a key indicator of periodontal disease. Being able to detect it early helps in the prevention and management of adjacent oral and systemic diseases, including tooth loss, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
The research team is now looking to expand the application of their AI model to community services, raising access to dental care among the elderly and underserved communities.
THE LARGER TREND
Dentistry has seen increased application of AI in recent years, from detecting cavities to predicting treatment outcomes to designing artificial teeth.
In the United States, startups like VideaHealth and Overjet have developed AI-powered tools that also assist in detecting periodontal diseases. Pearl has recently brought its FDA-approved AI diagnostic support tool Second Opinion to Australia and New Zealand.
ON THE RECORD
“Many patients do not attend regular dental check-ups, and they only seek dentists to alleviate pain when their teeth are at the end stage of dental diseases, in which tooth loss is inevitable, and only expensive rehabilitative treatments are available. Our study shows that AI can be a valuable screening tool in detecting and diagnosing gum disease, one of the key indicators of periodontal disease, allowing earlier intervention and better health outcomes for the population,” Dr Walter Yu-Hang Lam, one of the study’s lead researchers, explained.