Artificial intelligence may automate design of biomimetic single-tooth protheses

Even with the support of modern computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology, creating a dental prosthesis is still time-consuming, resulting in more chair time and high costs for patients. To facilitate the design of molar crowns, researchers from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Department of Computer Science of Chu Hai College of Higher Education in Hong Kong collaborated to develop a novel approach using artificial intelligence (AI).

In order to restore the patient’s original appearance, masticatory function and general oral health, dental protheses should have the same occlusal morphology and 3D position of the natural teeth. These can be deduced for a missing tooth from those of the surrounding dentition because the teeth of an individual are all controlled by the same set of genes and exposed to the same oral environment. The researchers hypothesised that AI could thus generate the design for a single-tooth prothesis based on the characteristics of the remaining dentition.

The research team used a machine learning approach called a generative adversarial network (GAN) to train and validate their AI system and have tested it on 175 participants. The system was able to reconstruct the shape of a natural tooth and automate the process of dental protheses design based only on the digital model of the patient’s dentition.

The study, titled ‘Artificial intelligence-designed single molar dental prostheses: A protocol of prospective experimental study’, was published online in PLOS ONE.