Episode 5: From AI to Diagnostic Tools – The Latest Tech Trends in Dentistry


Read the audio transcript below:

Dr. Luisa Schuldt: Hello everyone. Welcome to Brush Up, presented by Oral Health Group. The dental podcast where we speak with industry experts to discuss a variety of topics such as technology, finance and practice management. I’m your host, Dr. Luisa Schuldt, a dual certified periodontist and prosthodontist based out of Font Hill, Ontario. Today we’re discussing with Lou Schuman the future and innovations that are coming to dentistry. Lou Schumann is the founder and CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leader in introducing new technologies into dentistry. He’s also Co-founder of Lightforce Orthodontics, the first company to create a fully customized 3D-printed ceramic orthodontic bracket and solution for orthodontists. Recently, he was awarded the American Mobile and Teledentistry Alliance’s highest honor, The Denobi Pinnacle Achievement Award. Congratulations! Which recognizes an individual whose leadership and ongoing contributions have dramatically impacted the dental profession. Going forward, the award will be named in his honour. Lou was also recently honored as Global Summits Institute Doctor-to-Doctor World Top 100 Doctors. He is founder and creator of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards and Best of Class Hygiene Awards, which are considered some of the most prestigious awards a company can earn. Welcome, Lou.

Dr. Lou Shuman: Hi there.

Luisa: It sounds like you’re a very busy guy, Lou. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Lou: My pleasure. I appreciate being invited.

Luisa: It sounds like we’re in for a lot of learning and I would love to start that off with a question for you. You seem to be in a really unique position focusing on bringing new technology startups into dentistry. Could you share with us what’s on the horizon or just about ready to enter the dental space?

Lou: Well, you know, it’s really exploding. During the pandemic, things really started to slow down. It was really tough to be able to focus on new innovation. But now, as things are getting sort of back to normal, it’s unbelievable the amount of new tech that’s coming into the space. It’s very, very exciting. So let me share some of them with you and go from there. So one of them is a company called Dental Ray. And I love what they’re doing. What Dental Ray is doing is that, you know, we’re starting to take more cone beams. CBCT is becoming more popular and what you can do is send your CBCT to Dental Ray and they have expert radiologists who will evaluate it and be able to bring those findings back to us. And what I love about that is, of course, around liability. Of course, that’s one issue, but it’s also great for educating the patient and it’s something that’s a real benefit. So that’s a new company that’s coming: Dental Ray. Allura Health is another one that’s a little bit farther away from coming into the space, but very exciting. Their focus is salivary diagnostics, and they’ve created a sensor. As a matter of fact, they spent three years in China to miniaturize the sensor and the sensor will either go directly bonded to a tooth or it will go on to an aligner retainer and, at one point, potentially even in aligners themselves. What’s really neat about it is it comes with an app and it’s real time. So right now it’s able to sense pH as well, which I think is kind of cool. Compliance. So you can actually tell if the patient is wearing their aligner retainer based on the sensor. But what’s coming besides compliance and pH, where you can sense if you’re in an environment that could be more apt for carries, is glucose is coming, phosphate is coming, so that the sensor will be able to – literally by looking at the app – know what your numbers are, if you’re diabetic, kidney function, things like that. So that’s a little bit away, but really, really exciting coming into the space. Nobio from Israel, and they’re in the market now, have created an antimicrobial that is incredible. One of the issues in dentistry, as we know, is doing posterior composites and getting secondary care as a result. It was just too easy for carries to occur underneath that posterior composite. Well, you mix this into a composite and they have their own product called Infinix. Infinix, with this antimicrobial, literally eliminates secondary carries from occuring. And this antimicrobial is going to be integrated into other products, other technologies, that will have a big impact in dentistry. Really amazing company. Amazing that they have the ability to be antimicrobial consistently, never actually diminishing for the lifetime of that product that it will be integrated with. So its first entry into the market is Infinix, which is a composite material that has this antimicrobial integrated in it. Optisurg is one of my favorites as well. This is just coming into the market, coming from medicine, and it’s going to have a huge impact. The best way to explain it is…let’s pretend, Luisa, that you’re a general practitioner and that you’re in the chair and you’re in Canada and I’m here in DC. And you have a patient in the chair. And you go, you know, you’ve got some orthodontic issues. I’d like my friend Lou to see it. (Just for those that I’m talking to, I’m an orthodontist in a past life) So you put on these amazing glasses, and you hook it to a server. And then I, here in DC, on a computer screen can hook into your server and I can be looking at that patient as if I’m in the chair, looking at that patient with you. And you can bring in multi specialties. You can use it for patient education. I think this technology will have a huge impact with DSO’s because, you know, some of the DSO’s have remote locations and as a prosthodontist, as a periodontist, as an orthodontist, maybe they can’t get to those offices as much as they would like. So to be able to use Optisurg, you can literally do consults remotely and the technology is so good it’s like you’re literally in the chair. And with the audio you can even do multidisciplinary consult simultaneously. Between doing consults, treatment plans, all of that can be done before you even get to the office. So Optisurg is really cool, just coming into the space. Smart Mirror from Israel – this is another really new technology that is like taking the mirror that we’ve used for years from the Gothic age, and it’s now taking it to a whole different level. This mirror has 32 LEDs so that you can change the brightness of the mirror and you can even change the colour of the LED’s in the mirror. The mirrors, of course, is scratch proof, etc. But what’s really amazing about the mirror is it has audio. So you can literally dictate to the mirror audio into your records and it has video. It has a video recording of what you’re looking at in the patient’s mouth and can be projected to a screen or a tablet or a PC. So it’s called Smart Mirror from Israel. It’s amazing. I just want to take one and walk around with it. I can do audio; I can do video. It’s phenomenal. So that’s another one. That’s coming into the space. So that’s to give you an idea of some of the things that are coming in as new tech.

Luisa: That’s really amazing. You mentioned technology that is, you know, growing and being developed in so many different countries. Is there anything that’s actually Canadian-based that’s coming on the market?

Lou: Yes, there is actually, and this gets into the whole area of AI. Most practitioners think that AI is focused on X-rays, diagnostics and, you know, stuff like that. There’s a whole other area of AI, and one of them is coming from Calgary and the name of the company is OraQ. And what they’re doing with AI is the patient will fill out forms and then you will do a clinical exam, and the AI will tell the practitioner what that patient is interested in. It’s really a conversion tool that helps you collaborate with the patient to better convert that patient to dentistry. So you learn about the needs of the patient from the patient themselves through the forms they fill out. And then based on all the AI that’s in there, all the data, it will guide the practitioner into a much more collaborative treatment plan to improve conversion and production. It’s really special and that’s coming out of Calgary called OraQ.AI. They’re in the middle of doing a pilot, so for those that are listening to the podcast, you can reach out to them and potentially be part of the pilot before it launches within the next year.

Luisa: I’m so happy you touched on the topic of AI. It’s such a hot tech term. It’s growing everywhere in every industry. What other predictions do you have for the future with regard to AI?

Lou: This is the technology that’s now explosive coming into our industry. There is so much that’s happening and what I’ll do is I’ll talk a little bit about the clinical AI and then I’ll go back to where OraQ fits in, which is utilizing AI in a way that is completely unique and not involved in the clinical area. So let’s start in the clinical area. It’s really neat what’s happening, is the companies that are coming out in AI, they are all excellent. So you look at companies like Pearl, OverJet, VideaHealth, Dentai.ai, – these are all very clinically focused AI that really do a tremendous amount of work around natural language, language processing, machine learning, really focusing on X-ray analysis, oral diagnosis, early detection. But there is one company that is right now in Canada that is not yet in the United States. And they are a clinical AI company that has raised the bar and they’re called Diagnocat. They have raised the bar by not only being 2D but being 3D. So they’re, from what I’ve seen, the first clinical AI that has introduced 3D into our ability to diagnose, our ability to visualize. They have literally 35 2D conditions and six 3D reports, being able to look at the patient in many ways. And it’s a great benefit in educating the patient. A ton of it is all these companies are really doing a great job in giving us a tool to be able to have early detection look at periodontal, you know, look at carries. This detection and those properties, capabilities, will continue to grow with Diagnocat being the first to move into 3D. Now other areas where AI is moving…As I mentioned, OraQ. Let me mention two others. One is a company called Patient Prism. And Patient Prism works with the front desk and has all of this data. They’ve just launched a new aspect of Patient Prison called Deep Lens. And what it does is that it really helps the dental practice understand the customer experience by providing detailed insights about individual calls and the entire customer experience. It uses AI to be able to, in natural language processing, provide detailed information about receptionist performance, call outcomes and overall sentiment. It’s really amazing, so that if you have someone that answers the phone, and that patient is looking to have their wisdom teeth out, and the receptionist will say you need to fill out these forms, you need to fill out the insurance, and then when you do that you know, call us back. Well within 60 seconds, the Deep Lens by Patient Prism will tell that front desk and receptionist – #1 you need to call them back to set up an appointment; that’s something that you need to do. This patient is worth in production $3300. Here are the things that you did well and here are things that you can improve on going forward. So it literally analyzes calls, and based on all of the AI information that it’s accumulated, it will guide the front desk how to convert better, the production that’s needed, how to communicate, better keywords. Really, really something. So here’s AI and dentist moving away from clinical, actually supporting the front desk, supporting conversion by that front desk receptionist, and communicating with the patient either at that, you know, at right after the call. Like if they call and leave voicemail, etc. It’s really an amazing AI technology. And another one is called Amplify, by the company Simplify. What this one does is when a new patient comes to the website, there is a real person waiting for them to say hello. So imagine yourself going to a website and as you move into the Simplify website, there’s someone there waiting for that, and this is put into practices. So you now have someone live at the website of that dental office saying hello, and as that potential patient is communicating with that person, AI is guiding the individual that works for Simplify, representing that dental office. What to say to convert that patient into the office. And it has real-time appointment making and the conversion is incredible. I had a friend, an orthodontist, who used it for one month. It’s like $399 and they put someone there live at their website and these potential ortho patients come in. They obviously know about the office, they know about ortho. They communicate with that patient. AI is guiding them on what to say and he set up 7 ortho patients for that month. And if you pick $5,000-$6,000 case in one month for $399, they got $42,000 worth of production in seven new stocks. So again, AI here is guiding the individual that’s representing the dental office, who’s a live person on their website. That live person is from Simplify and guiding that patient through AI to come into the office and to set up an appointment. Another one that is really significant is a company called Dental Monitoring and Dental Monitoring is when you have ortho, be it aligners or braces. They give the patient something called a scan box and the patient scans their teeth and that is sent to the practitioner, to the orthodontist, to the general dentist, and it will literally tell them if the braces are passive and that they need to come in at that moment, or if the aligner has finished its activity and they can move to another aligner. And it also does observations where it can evaluate plaque, gingivitis, external carries. It’s another incredible use of AI that allows the doctor to see progress while they’re home and give feedback as put the next liner on or continue to wear it, you need to come in because the wire is passive. And now it spans to looking at some of the issues that we have with compliance around plaque, gingivitis and even decay. So that gives you an idea of the explosion of what’s happening with AI; it’s really going to change our process.

Luisa: Yeah, it sounds like the future is bright and AI can make it even brighter. That the quality of care we can provide for our patients is ever growing. Now when I introduced you, Lou, I mentioned that you are CEO of a very interesting company Cellerant. Could you tell us a little bit more about Cellerant and the role it has in driving future innovations?

Lou: Yes, as a matter of fact, I did something fun. Knowing that we’re going to talk about tech, I was hoping you were going to ask me this question and what I did for the first time, and I recommend that everybody try this, is I went to ChatGPT. And I put in ChatGPT – OK, let’s see how this works – and I said, who is Cellerant Consulting Group? And what came back was so significant that I’m actually going to use the verbiage and put it on the home page on my website. So I put in ChatGBT, “who is Cellerant Consulting Group?” and this is what came back: “Cellerant Consulting Group is a dental industry consulting firm that provides strategic business solutions and expert insights to dental manufacturers, distributors and service providers. Their team of industry experts offer services such as market research, product development, marketing and sales strategies, and thought leadership programs to help their clients gain a competitive edge in the dental industry. Cellerant Consulting also provides an annual award program called the Best of Class Technology Awards, which recognizes innovative dental technologies that have demonstrated excellence in their category. The award winners are selected by an expert panel of dentists and industry leaders. Overall Cellerant Consulting Group’s mission is to help their clients achieve success in the dental industry by providing them with customized and actionable solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.” Can you believe that? I just put in  who’s Cellerant Consulting Group and that’s what I got back. You’ve got to try it. It’s unbelievable. And, basically, we grow companies. That’s what we do. We do the hard work to really, you know, we meet with our clients on a weekly basis. We’re the number one provider of content into the dental industry. So that if you pick up journals, there’s many, many articles that are written. Matter of fact, I’m blessed, as you know, to have a column in Oral Health Canada called the Last Word in Technology, and that’s where I expand upon some of the companies that we’re talking about. But we also have significant presence in many, many journals and our goal is to educate the dental community on technologies. And those that we think really will have an impact with our awards.

Luisa: Lou, you’ve already mentioned so many incredible innovations entering or close to entering the dental field. Would you have one or two more that you see as absolute future game changers?

Lou: Well, I think what I’ll do is, in looking at everything that I’ve shared, I would have to say that probably the one or two major…AI as a category. Alright, I’ll leave that I don’t think that I should pick one cause it’s still in its infancy and growing like crazy. Like I said, Diagnocat was the first to bring 3D, so that’s a unique scenario. You’ll expect that from all of them in the near future, but Diagnocat is in Canada, not even in the US yet. But I’m really excited in the future of what Optisurg is going to do, especially for the growth of DSO’s to be able to come in virtually, literally for specialists to do multi consults in offices. I think that’s huge. I also think that it’ll be a great patient education tool in the future, so that’s one that’s just arriving that I think will have a huge impact. And then what Nobio has created as an antimicrobial, I think you will ultimately see this antimicrobial and implants, all different types of restorative dentistry. It’s really an amazing and revolutionary product to be able to have full time antimicrobial impact has, you know, never been done before, and I expect that you’ll see that both in medicine and in dentistry in many different applications. Those I would say, looking forward, it will be big game changers in our industry.

Luisa: Thank you so much Lou for sharing all these amazing innovations, giving us a little peek into the future, seeing what we might be doing day-to-day ten years down the line, five years down the line, it’s really amazing.

Thank you also to our listeners. Thank you for joining us and listening in. Please be sure to subscribe on Spotify and follow us on social media to be notified every time we post a new episode. Thanks again to everyone. Keep brushing up!