“Dentists were shut down overnight. And a lot of dentistry is continuing care,” said Dr. Cindy Roark, DMD, MS and SVP and Chief Clinical officer at Sage Dental Management. “The people who were successful were people who had already dipped their toe in the water and had teledentistry systems in play.”
Dr. Cindy Roark, DMD, MS and SVP, and Chief Clinical officer at Sage Dental Management
Dentistry has a trust problem, to put it mildly. Many adults are flat out afraid of going to the dentists. Others simply don’t trust their dentists to give honest and accurate recommendations. That mistrust is likely rooted in negative experiences.
Dentistry is, at its most basic, a manual skill. So the idea that we would put the most delicate procedures in automated “hands” might feel counterintuitive. But robot surgeons have been with us for almost 20 years, allowing surgeons to control multiple robotic arms through a hand-operated console, giving them greater dexterity and vision when operating in hard-to-reach areas.
For AI, that’s data analysis and predictive tools. For robots, its consistency.

So robots may do well with precision drilling or suturing, while dentists apply soft skills that machines can’t handle, like patient relations and care management. None of that is to say you’ll be seeing robots in your office soon.
“There’s one robotic implant placement system right now and it’s well over $100,000,”
Roark said. “So if the average dentist is not doing implants, a hurdle of that price tag is prohibitive.

Affordable AI is more likely to become commonplace because it automates some part of a daily procedure that might be considered precision or low-skilled, Roark said. A robot that fills cavities, for example, or AI that generates a crown with perfect margins and a 3D printer that assembles it.
“I think when we get to the point where AI software can help automate that—golden, everyone will adopt, Roark said. “People don’t like spending money, unless it makes your life easier.”
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