One of the greatest challenges facing dental practices and groups is finding – and keeping – clinicians and team members. A survey by the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) in September 2022 found that one-third of dental practices said vacant staff positions prevented them from having a full schedule.
Having technology such as dental AI can help recruit and retain hygienists and dentists.
Here’s how dental practices, groups, and DSOs are using dental AI to give them a competitive advantage.
How Dental AI Helps Recruit & Retain Hygienists
The number of hygienists that have left the field, combined with the shut-down of hygiene schools during the pandemic, led to a severe shortage of hygienists.
The September 2022 survey by the ADA Health Policy Institute found:
- 36.4% of dental practices were recruiting for dental hygienists
- 77.3% found it extremely challenging to recruit hygienists
In this highly-competitive environment, dental practices with technology that helps hygienists do their jobs effectively and fosters a workplace culture that helps hygienists feel valued have a competitive advantage.
One of the greatest frustrations for hygienists arises when they don’t feel the doctor supports their findings for periodontal treatment such as scaling and root planing.
Artificial intelligence for radiograph analysis provides objective data that quantifies bone level measurements. When that’s coupled with the hygienist’s findings from perio probing and other indicators such as bleeding, it gives the hygienist more confidence to present his or her findings to the doctor.
“The feedback from hygienists is that it can be difficult initially to integrate with the dentists. With Overjet’s AI technology, it calibrates them quickly. It eliminates the doubt about what the findings show. That helps us recruit and retain hygienists,” said Dr. Ankoo Raina, the Chief Dental Officer at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, a group with more than 70 locations.
How AI Helps Recruit and Retain Dentists
Many dental practices are seeking ways to recruit and retain dentists, too. The problem isn’t just dentists leaving the profession, or that new dentists have not had the same clinical training because of the COVID pandemic. It’s also that the percent of dentists diagnosed with anxiety more than tripled in 2021 compared to 2003, according to the ADA’s 2021 Dentist Health and Well Being Survey Report. Anxiety and depression can cause people to lose sleep, lose confidence, and negatively impact decision-making.
Here are some ways that dental AI for radiograph analysis can help.
- AI helps with decision fatigue. Unlike human eyes, computer vision never gets tired. Whereas humans can look at traditional gray-scale X-rays and experience decision fatigue, the artificial intelligence algorithms will return the same findings consistently and objectively. Overjet’s AI detects and outlines decay and quantifies bone levels, color-coding them to draw human eyes to areas of concern. Then the doctor can determine the diagnosis and treatment options.
- AI helps with diagnostic confidence. The AI acts as an objective set of eyes, confirming what the provider sees, and directing attention to areas that may have been overlooked. It helps to clarify the clinical findings, and is a powerful diagnostic adjunct that helps providers feel more confident in their diagnosis.
- AI helps increase case acceptance. AI analysis and annotations don’t just help clinicians feel more confident. They also help patients feel more confident in the final diagnosis. Most people don’t know how to read traditional grayscale radiographs. Having the findings clearly displayed in color and quantified helps them to understand their oral health conditions. It builds trust, and when patients trust their dentist, they are more likely to move forward with treatment. Overjet’s internal studies show that on average, case acceptance increases between 18% and 22% when patients are shown X-rays with AI-generated annotations compared to without. For dentists, that means more people are receiving the dental care they need, which increases job satisfaction.
- AI helps with dentist recruitment. When doctors see the artificial intelligence technology, they appreciate the investment in technology that the practice or group is making to give providers tools that will make their jobs easier. It gives the practice a competitive advantage in hiring dentists. At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, the recruiting team displays Overjet’s AI findings on a television screen at recruiting events and their recruiters talk about the technology during interviews.
From helping providers be clinically-precise and efficient, to helping with recruiting and retention, artificial intelligence is a powerful tool for dental practices and groups seeking to attract and keep talented clinicians and team members.