AI in Action: 3 Ways DSOs Use AI in Hygiene

Periodontal disease is one of the biggest threats to dental health, with almost half of adults aged 30 years and older having some form of the gum disease - and that number jumps to over 70% for adults that are 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yet, patients are often surprised to learn they have this common gum infection that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Hygiene leaders for three dental groups share how they’re using Overjet’s artificial intelligence software to:

  • Standardize periodontal treatment protocols
  • Educate patients and increase treatment acceptance
  • Increase insurance claim approvals for periodontal disease

The Old Way: Diagnosing Periodontal Disease without AI

Before the groups started using AI, their hygienists and doctors would identify periodontal disease by eye-balling the radiographs to determine the degree of bone loss, and couple that with information from probing depths, periodontal charting, the oral health exam, and the patient’s medical history.

“Before AI, there was a lot of subjectivity in quantifying bone loss. What one person may see another may not,” said Katie Wilson, RDH, a Hygiene Coach at Dental Care Alliance, a group with about 400 allied practices.

AI Standardizes Periodontal Treatment Protocols

Overjet’s AI is FDA-cleared to quantify bone level measurements on dental X-rays. It also reviews patient X-rays from the past 18 months and cross-references with information in the practice management system, including periodontal probing depths, to identify patients who may have undiagnosed treatment needs.

“AI has made a huge difference in diagnosis. Now that we have the objective bone level measurements in millimeters, it gives us a clear understanding so we can make a consistent diagnosis for our patients. It’s helpful that Overjet flags patients with potential periodontal disease so that we take a second look at things that we may have potentially missed,” said Amber Bardlett, RDH, BSDH, PHDH, the Director of Hygiene at Great Lakes Dental Partners, a group with more than 25 locations in the Midwest.

“I think the biggest impact that we’ve seen as a group has been calibrating our providers,” said Erin Kierce, RDH, MS, MPH, the Chief Compliance / Hygiene Officer at Passion Dental, a dental group with 61 locations.

“It’s no longer someone’s interpretation of the X-rays. It removes the subjectivity and gives it a more evidence-based approach. Based on the findings and the protocols you have for your group, you know how to consistently diagnose and treat the patients,” Kierce continued.

Dental AI Helps Educate Patients & Increase Case Acceptance

When you tell a patient that you’re measuring from the CEJ to the crestal bone, they may have no idea what you mean. But when you can show them their X-rays with the bone level measurements in millimeters, they can see where the numbers are bigger and understand that’s where bone loss is occurring.

“Incorporating AI into case presentation is vital to patients’ understanding and acceptance of treatment,” said Katie Wilson with Dental Care Alliance.

“Patients will say, ‘How do you know? I don’t see anything.’ Now we can show them the X-rays with the AI and it validates our findings. You can’t argue with a photo. This strengthens the conversation about gum disease and reduces the amount of time it takes to explain their condition,” Wilson continued.

Amber Bardlett with Great Lakes Dental Partners agrees.

“It makes it a slam-dunk presentation and saves us a lot of time. We’ve seen a significant increase in case acceptance. It helps us present the rationale of why we’re recommending specific treatment, and helps the patients to understand the benefits,” she said.

“The AI helps build trust and confidence in their provider. It gives them more information to help them better understand their condition, which is leading to greater acceptance for SRP (scaling and root planing). The patients are taking more ownership of their health when they can see the AI findings in front of them,” said Erin Kierce with Passion Dental.

AI’s Impact on Insurance Claim Submissions

AI-assisted dentistry has another benefit.  It can provide objective findings that practices can submit to dental payers along with the traditional radiographs and associated claim information.

“We started to submit pre-authorizations for SRP with a snapshot of the AI and bone loss measurements and we’ve had a lot more approvals,” said Kierce.

Empower Hygienists with AI 

The hygiene leaders say they’re able to provide a higher standard of care because of the data the AI provides.

“Our hygienists feel empowered and feel more confident presenting a case to the doctor,” said Amber Bardlett. “They start off by saying here’s what I see, here are Overjet’s findings, and it’s helped the doctors be aligned with the hygienists. It gets everyone on the same page so we can do what’s best for the patient.”

Overjet’s AI technology is also FDA-cleared to detect calculus and to detect and outline decay. To learn more about how Overjet helps DSOs elevate diagnostic accuracy and case presentation, visit

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