AI to help with straightening teeth

Artificial intelligence teeth straightening
Photo: lightfieldstudios 123rf

A new tool being developed by a Danish team will help orthodontists correctly fit braces onto teeth. Using artificial intelligence and virtual patients, the tool predicts how teeth will move so as to ensure that braces are neither too loose nor too tight.

The tool, developed in a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and the company 3Shape, makes it possible to simulate how braces should fit to give the best result without too many unnecessary inconveniences.

The tool—described in IEEE Access—has been developed with the help of scanned imagery of teeth and bone structures from human jaws, which AI uses to predict how sets of braces should be designed to straighten a patient’s teeth best.

“Currently, these interventions are based entirely upon the discretion of orthodontists and involve a great deal of trial and error. This can lead to many adjustments and visits to the orthodontist’s office, which our simulation can help reduce in the long run,” Professor Kenny Erleben said.

“The fact that tooth movements vary from one patient to another makes it even more challenging to predict how teeth will move for different people accurately,” Dr Torkan Gholamalizadeh added.

“Which is why we’ve developed a new tool and a dataset of different models to help overcome these challenges.

“As transparent aligners are softer than metal braces, calculating how much force it takes to move the teeth becomes even more complicated But it’s a factor that we’ve taught our model to take into account so that one can predict tooth movements when using aligners as well.”

Researchers created a computer model that creates accurate 3D simulations of an individual patient’s jaw, and which dentists and technicians can use to plan the best possible treatment.

To create these simulations, researchers mapped sets of human teeth using detailed CT scans of teeth and of the small, fine structures between the jawbone and the teeth known as periodontal ligaments—a kind of fibre-rich connective tissue that holds teeth firmly in the jaw.

This type of precise digital imitation is referred to as a digital twin—and in this context, the researchers built up a database of ‘digital dental patients’.

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